2014-15 By The Numbers: #1 Jonas Hiller

Jonas Hiller joined the Calgary Flames as a free agent in the off-season. He had been cast off by the Anaheim Ducks in favour of youngsters like John Gibson and Frederik Andersen. He was pretty motivated to perform well in Calgary.

Overall, you could say he did pretty well.

Last season, the Flames had a lot of instability in net. They went through a ton of goalies in a single season, and when you don’t know who’s gonna be in net – or how they’ll perform – it can hurt the entire roster. The idea behind bringing in Hiller, an established goalie, was probably two-fold. First, you (at worst) get a good veteran goalie who can back-stop the team. Second, maybe having somebody better than Reto Berra would push Karri Ramo to perform better.

Here’s a comparison of Ramo and Hiller’s rolling 5-game save percentages.

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In terms of the three areas of scoring chances (high-danger = slot, medium-danger = home plate, low-danger = everywhere else):

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  • Low-Danger Save Percentage: 97.0%
  • Medium-Danger Save Percentage: 93.2%
  • High-Danger Save Percentage: 85.0%

All three of those were better than Karri Ramo’s. And when you compare Hiller to himself historically, his .926 even-strength save percentage is right in the midst of his usual .924 to .931 range. (He dipped to .914 in 2011-12, but that seems to be a big outlier based on his career.)

On the whole, Hiller had a good first season in Calgary. He rarely got lit up. He was generally pretty consistent. He was pretty cool under pressure. And he stole a couple games for the team early-on, which really helped provide the team with some confidence – most likely when guys were jumping into the rush.

Hiller is signed for another season for $4.5 million. I’d think long and hard before abandoning him, particularly if the choice is between him and Karri Ramo. Ramo’s good, but he’s streakier than Hiller, and I think Bob Hartley’s tendency to lean on Hiller more than Ramo over the season may be an indication that they had a bit more confidence in the veteran Swiss netminder over his Finnish counterpart.

  • RexLibris

    Keeping Hiller allows them to run Ortio as a backup and bring Gillies and a free-agent along in the AHL.

    Depending on how the roster shakes down in October, Hiller may be another trading chip at the deadline or part of a solid tandem for another playoff push.

    The Flames are in pretty good shape there right now.

  • RexLibris

    I’m all for Hiller, but he’s so simple to beat. anything above his waist is a sure goal it seems. And has a good tendency to allow one weak goal per game.

  • Burnward

    Hiller has more experience and had better results this season.

    Ramo is considerably younger and might have a higher ceiling (if he hasn’t reached it already).

    I think I’d go with Hiller and try to trade Ramo’s rights at the draft. If they can’t get anything for Ramo’s rights, oh well.

  • Greg

    Seems many are assuming the Flames NEED to get rid of either Ramo or Hiller. As we saw with injuries this year, we likely need 3 goalies to cover the Flames plus another for the Heat.

    Nothing saying the Flames can’t re-sign Ramo, go with the Hiller/Ramo tandem again, and have Ortio/Gillies tandem in the AHL.

    Re-signing Ramo also allows the Flames to retain a good asset, and trade him if a good offer comes along.

    In January Devan Dubnyk went for a 3rd rounder after playing 19 games, posting 2.72 GAA and .916 S%. Ramo played 34 games with a 2.60 GAA and .912 S%. Ramo’s numbers are comparable and should yield at least a 3rd and possibly higher given his playoff performance the last couple games.

      • wot96

        I don’t think Ortio would clear. So the Flames either need to commit to three goalies to start the year (and probably for the whole year)and sign Ramo; sign Ramo and trade one of three; or, let Ramo go with or without compensation.

        Here’s the problem. Hiller only has one more year on his contract and nothing says he re-signs in Calgary, especially if he splits significant time. If Ramo goes and Hiller doesn’t re-sign, then the Flames have to go with Ortio, who may not re-sign either, or Gillies gets thrust into the breach probably a little earlier than he should be.

        Flames could go from having two guys who can start, with a couple of hugely promising prospects, to relying on the greenest prospect, Gillies, in just 18 months.

        My opinion, one of the Flames goalies, Hiller or Ramo, needs to be signed for three years.

          • wot96

            Yes. Or just sign one.

            Dubnyk will probably get a huge payout this year, Hammond maybe too. I think we overpaid for Hiller and that is the problem with going for Goalies in free agency.

        • Joe Flames

          I think BT has it planned perfectly. Next year you have Hiller and Ortio and let Ortio earn the #1 job if he can while Gillies plays a ton in the AHL. If Gillies handles the pro game well you trade Hiller for assets at the deadline.

          Then the next year hopefully you have Ortio and Gillies fight it out to be #1
          If Ortio or Gillies flops in 2015-16 you can re-sign Hiller or go after someone else.

          The only thing is it would be nice to get something for Ramo rather than let him walk for nothing.

      • wot96

        No it’s a good point as Ortio would obviously not clear.

        Guess it comes down to, as wot96 was also stating, then:

        1) gain a 2nd or 3rd round pick you’d get for signing Ramo and trading either Ramo or Hiller OR

        2) not sign Ramo and lose the 2nd/3rd round pick

        The first option may have more risk but better outcomes but the second option may be the easier path. Will be very interesting to see how Treliving manages the issue.

        • Greg

          I think it’s a big assumption you could trade either of those guys for anything. Not a lot of excess demand for goalies, and there’s usually excess supply when the season starts.

          More likely you end up carrying 3 goalies or paying one of them to play in the minors. Doubtful Ortio would clear so you’d probably lose him for nothing if you tried to go that route.

  • Greg

    I think you nailed it Ryan, Ramo was streakier. At times, he looked like kipper. At times he looked like, well, still Kipper, but at the end of his career.

    Hiller was blah at times and gave up some softies, but overall more consistent (and better over the long haul). He’s a much better tandem for Ortio – if (when) Ramo goes through terrible slumps, you don’t want to have to rely completely on a rookie to carry the mail.

    I think a young team needs to be able to trust their goaltending and if Ortio isn’t a first-year-40+games goalie, much better to have Hiller keeping things calm for 60ish games then Ramo stealing a few but slumping for long stretches and blowing the team confidence.

  • wot96

    Hiller looks like a pretty proud guy. You watch him on the bench when he isn’t playing, or when he gets pulled, he isn’t happy. I like that in a goalie. He did let in a few soft ones, but he also stood on his head a couple of times and flat out stole points for the Flames. The Flames would not have made it to the playoffs without the points he stole in some of those games.

    Ramo looks like he is a Finnish Tim Thomas. He has a lot of passion and comes out and challenges shooters but sometimes, often even, pulling himself out of net. I see him getting better.

    I really hope the Flames can find a way to keep them both, and Ortio and Gillies.

    • Joe Flames

      Ramo plays like his hair is on fire.
      I like the Tim Thomas comparison; Ramo has great reflexes but often puts himself out of position, making many saves look harder and more spectacular than they need to be.
      On a day to day basis I prefer a steady, more technically sound goalie like Hiller.

  • wot96

    Obviously Ramo goes. Really, him and Hiller were interchangeable. Both goalies have faults. Neither goalie can play 70 games in a season (although in general it seems that relying on a super-goalie is becoming less common).

    Having Hiller and Ortio is fine. If there’s anything you can learn from the stats on Flames Nation, it’s that all you need is average goaltending.

  • Scary Gary

    As mentioned Hiller is 33 and had a 0.918 sv% (reg season) this year, which was pretty solid. Ramo is 28 and had a 0.912.

    I think Hiller has a higher trade value and is more likely to start to regress so my preference would be to stick with the two Fins (Ramo, Ortio) next year if Ramo will sign and trade Hiller at the draft.

    What I suspect will happen is we’ll trade Ramo’s rights and run with Hiller and Ortio. Either way I think we’re in pretty good shape, signing Hiller was a savvy move by BT.

  • Joe Flames

    Trade Hiller and re-sign Ramo would be the intelligent decision, the question however is how much could you get for Hiller, I move him in a heartbeat for a 2nd or 3rd round pick but not sure if the market is that bullish on him.

    Will be very intriguing to see how Treliving handles this…