Flames Sign Joni Ortio


The Flames recently announced they signed former 6th round pick Joni Ortio. The 19-year old has spent his time bouncing around various junior and pro leagues in Finland since he was drafted in 2009, so his results are all over the place. This year, he’s appeared primarily with TPS of the SM-liiga league (Finnish Elite League) and managed a .910 SV% in 15 games.

Ortio has been Finland’s starter during the World Junior Championships the last two seasons as well, marking him as perhaps the best goaltending prospect of his age group in Finland currently. Last year he knocked the ball out of the park at the tourny, with a .913 SV% in six contests. In the games I caught, Ortio was outstanding and one of the primary reasons his team was competitive.

I’m not a big fan of drafting goalies in general, but the Flames got this one right. They nabbed a guy late in the proceedings and he’s turned out to be one of the better puck stoppers of his cohort. This signing no doubt means that Matt Keetley’s tenure with the organization is at it’s end and Ortio will probably battle with Leland Irving for the starters role in Abbotsford next season. The details at the bottom of his Elite Prospects profile suggests the Flames have already called him to Abbotsford, probably because Irving is out with an injury. It’ll be interesting to see how Ortio does if he gets some starts down the stretch here.

  • Robert Cleave

    He was already travelling with the Heat on an ATO, but good on them for settling this. I suspect the next order of business will be to sign Tim Erixon once the Elitserien playoffs and/or World Championships have concluded.

    • Ahh, that’s right.

      I look forward to seeing what Ortio can do next season. A lot of people are high on Irving after his year, but he doesn’t do much for me. He’s 3 years into his pro career and not once been amongst the best puck stoppers in the AHL. If Ortio can effectively challenge Irving or usurp him, that would be good news in my eyes.

        • Irving will be waivers elligible soon, but he’ll only have to pass through them if he makes the team or is recalled. Plus, the risks of waiving a so-so goalie prospect are minimal – there’s tons of goalies everywhere. Almost no one claims an AHL ‘tender.

          I’m not giving up on Irving, just noting that there’ no indication that he’s ready to make the leap.

          As for Kipper, the Ortio signing says nothing about his position on the team nor the Flames attitude on their starting goaltender. It’s a long-term thing.

          • the-wolf

            Thanks for the clarification.

            Agree he’s not ready yet, one more year at least, possibly 2, agree he needs to take another step next season, but at least he did take one this season as opposed to last season.

    • Yes. This was the first season he was the regular starter for the Heat and he managed a .909 SV%. That’s a below average save rate in the NHL, let alone the AHL. He was tied for 26th overall in the league by that measure this year, for example. Unless he takes two giant steps forward this summer, he’s nowhere near NHL-ready.

  • How many packs a day is Joni at? Hopefully we’ve gotten him before he’s reached Miikka levels and stopped giving a damn as long as he gets his smokes.

    Seriously though, the Flames said earlier in the season that Ortio needs to be getting starter time. He just wasn’t getting it in Europe so it seems they’re going to force the issue and hand it to him. Good to see.

    Does this pave the way for a Miikka trade? Are we going to dump Miikka, sign Vokoun, have Karlsson back up? WHATEVER WILL HAPPEN TO US WITHOUT KIPPER THE SAVIOUR?!

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    I don’t understand why signing a young guy to an AHL contract because he’s never had starter minutes means that we can now trade away the perenial NHL games-played and minutes-played leader, leaving us with 3 goalies who are barely more than unproven backups.

    It’s been proven time and again, with Roy being the exception, that pushing a goalie into an NHL starters job at best won’t bring him along in his development quickly, and at worst will ruin his career. I hope the Flames learn from the mistakes of others.

    I think having Miikka for a few more years means that the goalie of the future can be brought along at a reasonable pace.

    • You ask how this means we could trade away our goalie, leaving us with 3 unprovens.

      Isn’t it possible we get a goalie back in a trade? I doubt the Flames would just hand the reigns to Ortio, Irving, or Karlsson. Getting a goalie in a trade would allow for Ortio and Irving to continue developing.

      • Matty Franchise Jr

        You’re right. The Flames would not just hand the reigns to Ortio, Irving, or Karlsson. Next year or the year after that, unless they’re gunning for lottery picks.

        So if the new guy isn’t going to see the inside of an NHL dressing room for at least a year, and then at best he’s the backup in 2 years, what difference does it make who the #1 goalie is? It could be Kipper, Vokoun, Quick, Brodeur, Ward, Fleury, …

        Now, if they had signed one of those guys then I could see how you might think Kipper is about to be put on the trading block.

  • Gange

    Signing Ortio is very promising and a small sign that there may have been something that resembled a plan in Dutter’s head to replace Kiprusoff without having to acquire a free agent. Drafting Goalies is a risky business but this might pan out.

    However I don’t see how this means that the Flames can give Kiprusoff away at this time. Having a tandem of Karlsson and Ortio would not work, and if you’re getting another veteran netminder then you have to sign a longer contract anyway (or you would think so). Bryzgalov may be available but he won’t come cheap.

    So the question is, if you trade Kiprusoff what goaltender do you take to replace him? Karlsson, Irving, and Ortio are not that goalie yet. If ever.

    • Robert Cleave

      I don’t know that they’d automatically sign someone for the long term. There are always goalies available in the summer, so it might be a case of treading water for a couple of years until one of the young guys breaks out.

      As for whether Kipper is irreplaceable, he’s posted SV% of .906, .903 and .904 in 3 of his last 4 years. The league average is around .911. I have a feeling the Flames can find someone that can at least match that.

      • Gange

        Oh I think Kipper is replaceable. I’m under no illusions.

        Is your suggestion that you sign a goaltender of 2 years (random number) and then see what happens. If they’re not ready by then you sign a different tender…

        I’ve almost given up on Irving, although he has redeemed himself from last year where I thought he would be a complete write-off.

        • Robert Cleave

          Pretty much, Gange. A year or two for a goalie or two, at low dollars. If one of the kids blossoms, then mix him in. I wouldn’t be adverse to doing, more or less, what San Jose did this past summer. Sign two guys for about 3-4M combined on a short term basis and let it play out.

  • Robert Cleave

    Wow sign a goalie prospect and start a controversy. Its a signing folks, not an indictment of Kipper. Mikka is getting close to the end of his self life. Successful franchise continually morph forward. As for Irving”s dismal numbers, the stat can be very misleading. You can have a great tending surrounded by pylonian dmen. not to say irving is great but unless you consistently witness his play one cannot make any assumptions based on stats.

  • Gange

    I’m looking forward to camp as well.

    How about trading Bourque and a 1st to Ottawa for their 1st then picking up Landeskog to go along with Ortio, Erixon, and Brodie?

    That would be a nice little rejuvenation I think.

  • Gange

    Well that leaves the “core” and the only one I see drawing an eye is Iginla but with his age and contract, I don’t see that as realistic to get that pick. Ottawa would need someone younger to build around and Jarome is a piece of the puzzle for a team close to winning.

    However you just never know.

  • This guy couldn’t even hold Troy Gamble’s jock. He is certainly no Corey Schieder or Steve weeks. Gloss it up Flames fan know your history.

    Do you guys remember when you had Tyrone Garner? Nooo oh that’s right he is pre 2004.