Earlier this week, in a radio appearance on Sportsnet 960 The Fan’s morning show, Sportsnet analyst Elliotte Friedman dropped a very interesting piece of information over the airwaves.
HILLER IS BETTER THAN RAMO
The Flames went the balance of the past season rotating between Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo. Through 93 regular season and playoff games, the time in net was split as follows:
|Starts||% of All||Time on Ice||% of All|
Based on this, it’s fairly obvious that Jonas Hiller was the number one in terms of usage.
In terms of performance, he also had significantly better underlying numbers than Karri Ramo. He edged out his teammate in low, medium and high-danger save percentage, as calculated by War On Ice. And in terms of individual game performances, while Ramo did steal games more often than Hiller did, he also was lit up more often. In terms of games where they gave up four (or more goals), Ramo’s represented 16.7% of his starts while Hiller’s were just 15.7% of his. It’s a slight advantage, but over an 82-game schedule, it’s sizable.
The gist? If the Flames were keeping just one of their goalies to play alongside Joni Ortio next season, it’d be Jonas Hiller.
But they still might not.
THINK ABOUT THE FUTURE
A few weeks back, Kent looked at Calgary’s cap situation.
The Flames are fine right now. By all accounts, ownership has authorized the team to spend to the cap. But soon there will be extensions for Mark Giordano, Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Sam Bennett and, perhaps, Jiri Hudler. And all of a sudden, where did all the money go?
And considering that the Flames probably won’t be able to keep Jonas Hiller when he goes to unrestricted free agency after the 2015-16 season, it may make sense to take his new-found worth and flip him for an asset. Any number of teams – San Jose, Edmonton, and a few others immediately – could use goalie help. Many of them may be willing to give up a second round pick for Hiller this summer.
If the Flames can flip Hiller for an asset, that move would likely need to be paired with a move bringing in a mid-to-late-20s goalie that can help out in Calgary for a couple of seasons until Jon Gillies is ready to play in the National Hockey League. Long-term, the team’s mindset is probably tilted towards a relatively inexpensive (and hopefully good) young tandem of Gillies and Ortio.
In terms of who that bridge goalie could be, three names immediately come to mind:
- Ottawa’s Robin Lehner; the Senators have a crowded crease and need to make a move after the signing of Andrew Hammond.
- Chicago’s Antti Raanta; the Hawks are set with Corey Crawford and the newly-signed Scott Darling as his back-up.
- NY Islander’s Michal Neuvirth is an unrestricted free agent, and may like a chance to play more than he did stuck behind Braden Holtby (in Washington) and Jaroslav Halak (on Long Island); he played just 32 games.
(And this is ignoring several promising AHL goalies, such as Worcester’s Aaron Dell and Utica’s Jakub Markstrom, who could be perfectly fine stop-gaps in Calgary.)
The $64,000 question, though, is “Are any of these available goalies better goaltenders than Jonas Hiller?” Well, no. But fundamentally, any move that sends Hiller out of town isn’t about winning right now; it’s about attempting to maximize an asset that the Flames probably won’t be able to afford to retain following this coming season.