The Road to Ramo: The KHL Playoffs Begin

eason in the Kontinental Hockey League finished on Sunday and the annual Gagarin Cup playoffs – named for Hero of the Soviet Union (and first human being in space) Yuri Gagarin – begins later this week.


Karri Ramo’s Avangard Omsk club made it all the way to the Gagarin Cup Finals last year, losing in seven games to Dynamo Moscow. That becomes important when you realize that Ramo’s KHL contract – the only legal barrier between him and a Flames jersey – is his team getting knocked out of the playoffs.

So hold onto your hats, kids. Avangard Omsk (nick-named the Hawks) are a very good hockey team. They’re the second seed in the KHL’s Eastern Conference and will host the seventh seed, Sibir Novosibirsk (the Siberians) in the first round. While we wait out the last vestiges of Ramo’s Kontinental kareer, why not get into the KHL playoffs?

We’ll have Avangard Omsk’s playoff run covered here at FlamesNation, from A to backwards-R.


Avangard hosts Sibir in the friendly confines of Omsk Arena on Thursday, February 21 and Friday, February 22. After that, the series moves east to Novosibirsk (the third-largest city in Russia) for Game 3 on Monday, February 25 and Game 4 on Tuesday, February 26.

If necessary, Game 5 would be on Friday, March 1 in Omsk, Game 6 would be on Sunday, March 3 in Novosibirsk, and Game 7 would be on Tuesday, March 3 in Omsk.


The Siberians are back-stopped by their excellent goaltender, former Senators draft pick Jeff Glass. Beyond him, they have a two-pronged offense, by which I mean they have two real offensive threats. Those would be Jori Lehtera (47 points) and Jonas Enlund (34 points). Lehtera is a Finn who was drafted by St. Louis in 2008 and spent precisely 7 games in North America. Enlund is another Finn, himself drafted by the Thrashers in 2006. He never came over.

No other Sibir Novosibirsk players are scoring over 0.5 points per game.

Avangard Omsk has a much more balanced attack. Beyond Karri Ramo’s goaltending, they have the offensive skills of Alexander Frolov (39 points), Tomas Zaborsky (37 points), Alexander Popov (28 points), Alexander Perezhogin (28 points), Dmitri Syomin (24 points) and Anton Belov (23 points).


The Hawks and the Siberians faced each other twice during the regular season. On October 1, Avangard beat Sibir 2-1 in overtime. Former Flames pick Andrei Taratukhin scored the OT winner and Ramo made 19 saves for the win.

On January 5, Avangard beat Sibir 3-1. Igor Volkov had two goals and an assist, while Tomas Zaborsky had a goal and two assists. Sibir spoiled Karri Ramo’s shut-out halfway through the third period, but Ramo made 34 saves.


It’s not tremendously likely that Avangard Omsk will wash out of the first round. They have more scorers than their opponents, have slightly better goaltending and a roster that went to the finals last year. Factor in that they beat Sibir twice this season, the second time decisively, and it’s likely that the dreams of Flames fans for Karri Ramo in Calgary will have to wait.

At least until the second round. 

  • Jano

    It sure would be nice for Ramo to win the Gagarin Cup, which would make him feel like he has accomplished all he has to there and the confidence wouldn’t be a bad thing to come back to the NHL with.

    I wonder if he was eliminated early and came back to play a few for CGY if management would feel comfortable trading kipper once they saw Ramo do well.

    Either way good luck Ramo, and may the kipper be traded this season 😉

  • jdthor

    Any idea if Ramo has any intentions of making his way over at the end of his playoff run? I’ve heard he eventually wants to play in the NHL but haven’t heard anything about this year.

  • Stockley

    Would be nice to see Ramo in a Flames jersey this season if only to get a better read on what we have in him. Looks like Irv is probably done with the team, Macdonald is a stop-gap/desperation acquisition with Kipper gone and management still clinging to the illusion of the playoffs. I’m not ready to write Taylor off after one game but it’s unlikely he’s the long-term answer either. That leaves Ramo to keep the crease warm post-Kipper until one or both of Broissoit and Gillies is ready to inherit the mantle. Kind of scary to think there are no sure-things on the way isn’t it?

    • Stockley

      Last I heard that’s a bit of a grey area. I think that applies more to European veterans/free agents so teams can’t load up right before the NHL playoffs. As Ramo is arguably a Euro veteran but not a free agent I think he could be signed and come right over like Radulov did with the Preds last season. Could be wrong, of course. I’ve never seen a definitive answer to that question yet.

  • beloch

    The biggest potential payoff of Ramo coming over this season is that, if he impresses, Feaster *might* trade Kipper. (Let’s face it, Feaster is going to ride Kipper until he dies or another goalie walks on water for the team.)

    The NHL trade deadline is April 3, so Ramo could be over here by then if his team exists before the final round. However, Kipper will almost certainly be back in the lineup before the first round is over, so Ramo would have to impress while serving as Kipper’s backup. Based on past history this is no easy task!

    Realistically, Ramo’s team has to tank early and Kipper has to suck badly once he returns in order for Ramo to usurp his position this season. In this scenario, Kipper might unfortunately not be worth that much.

    Personally, I hope Ramo’s team goes the distance. The Flames could use a goalie used to winning. The only scenario in which Kipper will bring the return fans are hoping for is if he comes back and plays like a Vezina winner for a good stretch, but Feaster miraculously decides to go for a rebuild-trade at the deadline.

  • Stockley

    Maybe ramo inspires Kipper to stick around for a couple more years as a mentor, in a reduced role where the protege learns the craft from the greybeard. afterall they are fello finns, and finns aint exactly known for their outgoing personalities.

  • RKD

    I hope Ramo is the transition guy, he had some terrible numbers in Tampa but he was much younger and playing on a bad team.

    He’s 26 now and appears to have matured a lot. In his last 3 seasons he’s had very solid numbers: 2.11, .913, 1.97, .925 and 1.96, .925, respectively. I think for next season it’s either him or Taylor behind Kipper if Kipper plays here next season.

    Ramo does have the advantage over Taylor with 48 NHL games under his belt. I think it will be Ramo assuming the Flames part with Irving and have Taylor and Brust stay in the AHL unless they trade Brust.

      • SydScout

        Add to that, these numbers included a decent amount of time facing nhl opposition throughout the lockout

        Any businessperson worth their salt would trade Kipper. A 90% plus depreciated asset that you can get value for in a trade is a no-brainer. Surely most of the #34 jerseys have been sold by now (pains me to say as I have one and would hate that the legendary Finn would line up against us)

  • Hoping for an upset, so Karri can come over and we can get a read on him this yr before the summer. I’d like to go into next season with Ramo & somebody not currently in the Flames organization(s).

  • Scary Gary

    Most Flames fans are assuming Ramo will either be a star or at the very least an upgrade to our current goalie depth.

    Think again!! The KHL is not even close to the caliber of NHL hockey. Ramo is unproven and we should not assume he will be a capable goalie.

    Feaster needs to give his head a shake and consider immediately upgrading the Flames depth in goal and not play this fantasy ‘wait for Ramo’ game!

    • SmellOfVictory

      If by “not even close” you mean “actually reasonably close”, then sure. The scoring translation between the two is something like 0.8:1.0, meaning that each KHL point is worth roughly 0.8 NHL points. A 20% difference is still notable, but it’s far and away better than any of the other pro leagues in the world.

      There is, as per usual, the caveat of “moving from big ice to small ice”, but that aside, I have more faith in someone transitioning successfully from the KHL than any of the other pro leagues available.

  • I’m most surprised that Alexander Frolov still has a job in hockey that ISN’T as a Zamboni driver. And he leads his team in points.

    Has Ramo ever said ANYTHING about the Flames? I’ve heard no comments from him about how he feels. How do we know he even wants to play in Calgary?

    • SmellOfVictory

      He did say he wants to come and play with Kiprusoff, but would finish out his KHL contract (which ends this season). Only reason he didn’t come to Mtl is because Price is young and clearly the established starter.

  • T&A4Flames

    Thanks for the update, Ryan. Are you planning a weekend update for our other prospects. I’m just wondering how Janko, Gaudreau, Sieloff and others continue to do.

  • T&A4Flames

    Is Ramo under contract with us already? Since we have Macdonald and Taylor under contract that has the flames at 49 out of 50 contracts allowed. Wouldn’t signing him max our contracts and not being able to do anything if others get injured?

    • Jano

      Absolutely no to Taylor. Especially if last night was any indication, which I think it was. I can’t believe all the support this guy gets from people on here. Sure he had good numbers in the A, but he was also just a platoon goalie down there. But then again he is Feaster’s guy, so he’ll probably get a 2-3 year deal right away.

      • MattyFranchise

        Taylors played 1 NHL game and you are making that decision? So by that logic this season Sven has looked like nothing special, would you have him be on your roster?

        I am not invested in any goalie ( maybe a bit ramo) but this organization has a number one and isn’t about to give any backup the chance they need to succeed. Though irving and karralson have had some chances, neither has really had a reasonable amount of games strung together to make it work.

      • MattyFranchise

        Honestly with Taylor being a capable AHL starter and his game last night where he let in one bad goal out of 4… he gave the Flames a chance to win last night and if can give them a chance to win whenever he’s in net then that’s all I can ask of a back up.

        IF Kipper gets traded this year and IF Ramo comes over and IF Taylor wins Irving’s job, like he as already over the last two years, then I’d be more than happy with Ramo as a starter and Taylor as the back up.

        All I’m really looking for is a capable goaltender and back up, they don’t have to be earth shattering but they can’t be sieves either. With how poorly the Flames play in front of all of their back ups though, there needs to be a bit of a change in culture in the dressing room. It seems to me that the Flames players think that they can play like crap cause Kipper is back there to bail them out.

        Kipper needs to go… hopefully that will wake the team up.

        You have no idea how bad it makes me feel that the best option I can see for the team is to get rid of one of my favorite players.

        • Jano

          I should have explained myself a little better. There were/are a lot of people who are already placing Taylor as the top guy right now behind Kipper. Although not a fan of Taylor, I am willing to give the guy a chance but don’t have high expectations of him. A career minor leaguer is all I believe him to be. Personal opinion. Yes, the team plays horribly in front of all the back-ups, but that’s a different issue altogether. I’d personally like to see the team bring in a low cost FA during the off season who has had at least some success previously in the NHL, and use Ramo and FA as a platoon. Maybe keep 1 of either Irving or Taylor, who I would say are basically equal, for Abby and emergency purposes.

          Kipper will almost certainly be headed into retirement after the season. That was what I believe was the idea when he signed the contract, and now it may be even more of a sure thing.

  • T&A4Flames


    Yeah, Taylor let in a stinker last night, but it doesn’t matter if the team in front of him plays like they have in front of every back up Calgary has ever seen. Up until the total collapse in the third he was doing well. I’d trust him over Irving or MacDonald at this point.

  • My biggest issue with both Taylor and MacDonald is that neither of them seem to have any rebound control. You just give the opposing team goals if you are letting them shoot two, three, and four times on you every single time they get near you. Not good.

    At this point, I’m torn on what I want done. Hartley should be considering which goalie will screw up the most while still looking half decent. You know, so the Flames can tank and pick #1 or #2, and people won’t riot over them taking a dive.

    • seve927

      I forget who I was listening to, maybe Mike Rogers, but he said before the Phoenix game that Taylor’s biggest challenge in his first game was going to be his rebound control. It’s apparently quite normal for a first game. He looked very good for two periods. And I watched a couple of his AHL games. He just looks solid. I think he’s a pretty good bet to be an NHLer.

  • loudogYYC

    Everyone’s jumping at Taylor’s throat after a game where the entire team minus the 4th line stunk. 1990’s Patrick Roy could have been in net and they still would have lost. Flames didn’t score a goal remember?

    Seriously, the guy has a total of 80 NHL minutes played and we’re passing judgement?

    He should be given the load to carry while Kipper is out and allowed to make his mistakes, if Calgary is ever gonna move on from Kiprusoff as the one and only, Taylor has to be tried at least as part of the solution.

    Ramo should play here next season, but he shouldn’t be given the starting job and 60 games just like that, he’ll need competition to keep him on his toes too.

  • loudogYYC

    Just as a little reminder to all you goalie freak out people. Kipper was 26 years old when he came to play in Calgary. He was 3rd string in San Jose. So by some of your logic we shouldn’t have wasted our time on this piece of trash goalie. How old was Timmy The nut job Thomas when he finally started lighting it up? Roloson? Just relax people no team in the league has sure thing next generation goalies. Taylor is a good prospect, Irving is a decent prospect(needs serious mental training), even Brust is a decent prospect(think tim thomas) and Ramo is a very good prospect. So just relax we’re not going to win the cup this year or next year but maybe in 3 or 4 years we’ll see some serious awesomeness from these Calgary Flames.

    We can’t give our players away. Teams won’t give their prospects away either. So we wait till trade deadline comes up then things will happen. So just relax and enjoy the fun games sleep through the boring ones and give young players a freakin chance. That means you mister one game and you’re garbage.