Project Karri Ramo: Gamble?


The deal that sent Rene Bourque, Patrick Holland and a 2nd pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft to the Habs has already been called the ‘Cammie deal’. It looks like it may have something else in store for the Flames, though.

Along with Cammalleri they got a 5th round pick in the 2012 NHL draft and a potential steal in a Finnish netminder Karri Ramo. The 25-year-old native of Asikkala, Finland has played last 3 seasons in the KHL for Avangard Omsk. The mere fact that Ramo was invited to play at the KHL All-Star games in 2009/10 and 2010/11 perfectly speaks for his performance in Russia. He is considered to be one of the top goalies in the league while Avangard is always among those who are projected to win the championship.

At 6’3 and 207 pounds, Ramo is excellent butterfly goalie who positions himself well and has no problem with playing under pressure. Omsk fans are about as tough on their players as Canadian fans – it is a truly hockey obsessed town. In two and half seasons in the KHL, Ramo’s average SV% is 92.1% and his GAA is 2.04.

It should also be mentioned he improved his rebound control with every passing season. It is fair to say that he is a complete goalie now of an NHL caliber, which is something the Flames’ GM Jay Feaster appears to be aware of.

“Karri Ramo provides us with greater depth at a critical position,” said Feaster to

“Ramo has NHL experience and is one of the top goaltenders in Europe. His work ethic and dedication are first rate, and he is just starting to enter the prime of his career. We believe he has the tools and mental make-up necessary to be a number one goaltender in the NHL, and are pleased to add him to our organization.”

Ramo’s ability to play in the NHL doesn’t seem to be in question. Rather, it’s his desire to come across the pond again that is vague. It has been reported the Habs wanted to sign Ramo last May, but he preferred to ink a 2-year deal with Avangard. His salary in Omsk is not open to the public, but it is widely known that Avangard is quite generous with its the players. After all, they managed to keep Jaromir Jagr for 4 seasons. The rumors suggest back in his days with Avangard Jagr was the highest paid player in the world.

Avangard is currently 5th in its conference, but with over 10 games left to play in the regular season has a legit chance to land as high as 2nd. Ramo is tied for the first place in the league with Dinamo Riga’s Chris Holt in shutouts – both have 5. Karri is also 7th in the league with .927 SVS% and 4th with 1.94 GAA. Despite these excellent stats, he was not invited to play at the upcoming KHL All-Star Game.

Technically speaking, Avangard can offer Ramo more benefits than the Flames. In Omsk, he’s a solid #1 goalie with a decent pay-cheque, his head-coach is a fellow Finn, not to mention the fact he has more opportunities to get the nod to play for Team Finland at the Eurohockeytour and World Championship, which European players cherish a lot. Plus, his homeland is closer to Omsk than to North America and he’s got a team to run – Karri Ramo is a GM of Peliitat that plays in Mestis (Finnish 2nd tier league).

Nevertheless, he seems to be pretty pleased with the deal. “Again in nizhny-novgorod when my NHL rights gets traded. Hello Calgary!” said Ramo on twitter the next day after deal (original spelling is preserved in this quote). “And it would be awesome to play with Kiprusoff! But right now my full focus is with avangard omsk for this and next year! Its great feeling to be part of great organization in NHL and I wish I someday have a change to play for flames.”

Ramo’s agent Todd Diamond had something more pleasing for the Flames’ fans. “His desire is entirely to return to the NHL,” said Diamond to the Winnipeg Sun.

“He’s very excited about the trade. We never had any dialogue with Montreal because he knew the situation with Carey Price and that he wouldn’t get a shot there. It made his decision to sign a two-year deal with Omsk easy last summer.”

It seems unlikely that Ramo will risk it all to fight for a spot on the Flames’ roster in the next 2 years. The question is – should Calgary fans be disappointed? Not quite. Miikka Kiprusoff is signed until the end of 2013/14 season. Plus the Flames have Henrik Karlsson and Leland Irving to back him up. If Ramo’s still good enough by the end of the next season, he’ll only be 27 and can battle for the starting position with the Flames.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Just in case your curious.

    Nizhny Novgorod (Russian: Нижний Новгород; IPA: [ˈnʲiʐnʲɪj ˈnovɡərət]), colloquially shortened to Nizhny, is, with the population of 1,250,615, the fifth largest city in Russia, ranking after Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, and Yekaterinburg.[8] I

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Ramo didn’t want to play in Montreal, because Price is their bonified #1. Ramo wants to play with Kipprusoff. Kipprusoff is Calgary’s bonified #1. Interesting, let’s see if Jay can sign him.

  • Mitch2

    This is the jelly in the donut as far as the Cammy trade goes.

    With Kipper’s NMC expiring a move should expected between the pipes and especially if the Flames miss the playoffs again.

    If Ramo becomes an NHL starter, as alluded to, the trade is a huge win and will be one of Feaster’s best moves of all time.

  • beloch

    It would be wise for him to remain until Kipper is traded or concludes his career.

    The way the Flames treat their backups makes it impossible to achieve success. Most teams expect to compete at the top would put their francise goaltender in the tough spots and expect him to steal some games.

    Irving came in and had 3 very good to outstanding performances in difficult back to back situations where the Flames were outshot. He then gets started in Boston in an impossible situation and not surpisingly gets lit up. Kipper came in relief and also got lit up but now the kid languishes on the bench for an extended period.

    Sitting on the bench then coming in on the 2nd half of a back to back is not a recipe for success.

    If the team believes they can contend then they should put their franchise goalie in the tough spots and ask him to steal games and shelter the young back up versus the opposite which is now occurring.

    Calgary is a graveyard for backup goaltenders.

  • RexLibris

    With Kiprusoff still likely another year or two away from either being moved or re-signed I wonder if leaving Ramo in the KHL for the time-being would be good for his development? It isn’t exactly noted as the best development league in the world, although I think much of that has to do with the contentious player-tranfer agreements that the two leagues have had (or not had, as the case may be).

    The Flames have typically not done right by their backup goaltenders during Kiprusoff’s time there so bringing Ramo over to be the #2 goalie may not necessarily appeal to him. If he was reluctant to sign in Montreal because of Price’s gametime hegemony is it likely to be any different in Calgary?

    His stats look good, and there is something awfully appealing about Finnish goalies (the hockey equivalent of Swedish air stewardesses?) and his numbers appear to be tracking well. Just hope that Karri Ramo isn’t the latest incarnation of Jiri Dopita, “the Czech Mark Messier”.

  • beloch

    In terms of on-the-ice experience, the KHL is the next best thing to the NHL for a goalie. Of course, Ramo could easily stand to learn quite a bit from Kipper and the Flames coaching staff. The best we could hope for is that they find a way to bring Ramo over for a cup of coffee every so often, but let him spend the majority of his time in the KHL putting what he learns into practice. Hopefully his KHL contract is flexible enough to permit this.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Glad to see that the plight of Flames backups is noticed. When was the last time that the Flames actually developed a backup goalie into a starter?

    Nonetheless, Feaster has done something that I thought impossible. He’s given himself a credible chance of turning the Flames into a contender before Iginla’s career is done.

    If Karri Ramo signs for 2013-2014, trading Kiprusoff should bring at least one elite player to the Flames. And if Ramo can handle the run to the Cup, that extra quality up front could vault the Flames into being a serious contender.

    For example: the Islanders always need goaltending. How about Kiprusoff for Tavares?

    A long shot, you say? Better than no shot at all.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      “For example: the Islanders always need goaltending. How about Kiprusoff for Tavares?

      A long shot, you say? Better than no shot at all.”

      If that was a shot in the dark, it actually may have some potential. I believe Kipprusoff’s NTC expires at this season, he will make $5M next season, and a paltry $1M the following season in real money, while he is a $5.5M cap hit. Traveres currently making $900K, but is scheduled to finally make big money in the following seasons $4M, then $5M, then $6M, but will have a $3.75M cap hit. For a floor team like the Islanders that’s bad news, so picking up Kipprusoff would give them the big cap number they want with the low salay number ($1M). In effect, it would be a win-win. Actually, I think the Flames would be better off.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Sorry, but there’s zero chance NYI trades Tavares for Kipper. Or almost anyone else.

    As for Ramo, he’s not coming until the 2013/2014 season. He states that himself.

    Seems obvious that the team would then have him split the year with Kipper who would be in the final year of his contract. It all depends on how well Irving and Karlsson progress.

    He’s an insurance policy, nothing more. He could be our #1 in 3 years or we may never see him. I’m not too terrbily excited.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    I would bet you quite literally everything I own that NYI would never trade Tavares for Kiprusoff. I don’t think there’s any package the Flames could put together that would allow them to acquire Tavares, period; much less a goaltender who would be in his late 30s.

  • Did he say that Ramo is the GM of a team in Finland while being one of the top goalies in Russia? Did I read that right? He’s 25 years old! I think I was following him on twitter except it was his alias “The Most Interesting Man in the World”

  • Ramo may or may not turn out to be a good bet. What troubles me about this acquisition most is the ongoing thought pattern that appears at the minimum recurring (and potentially dominant) in this organization:

    Jay Feaster: General Manager of Tampa Bay Lightning, February, 2002-July, 2008

    Karri Ramo:
    Selected by Tampa Bay Lightning round 6 #191 overall 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

    2006-07- 2 GP for Tampa Bay Lightning
    2007-08- 22 GP for Tampa Bay Lightning
    2008-09- 24 GP for Tampa Bay Lightning

    Add that to:

    Blair Jones
    Selected by Tampa Bay Lightning round 4 #102 overall 2005 NHL Entry Draft

    And he traded for his old war horse Freddie Modin.

    To be fair, I can’t find any back links from Feaster to Byron, Butler, Horak, Smith or Cammalleri (although the back link there is clearly not through Feaster).