The Twitter-verse was abuzz yesterday about goaltenders.
Why? Well, young Tampa Bay netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy is undergoing surgery to remove a blood clot. As a result, speculation opened up about Calgary’s ample quantity of netminders and the possibility of (a) shipping out a body to Tampa Bay for an asset or (b) losing Joni Ortio on waivers to a team wanting a young goalie.
Would anybody claim Joni Ortio? To answer that question and whether there’s a market for any of Calgary’s veterans, let’s dig into things a bit.
WHO WOULD WANT ORTIO?
Okay, what teams would want to claim Ortio off waivers? Well, here’s the qualifications I’ve come up with.
- Teams that need back-ups. Presumably Ortio isn’t ready to be an NHL starter, but a team claiming him would need to keep him on their NHL roster, so this is a requirement.
- Teams that don’t have too many goalies under contract already. Adding Ortio would add a contract, and teams often have a bunch of deals tied up already – especially when we get into camps. Contractual flexibility at that position is a requirement.
- Teams that don’t have too many goalies that need waivers. Adding Ortio would be an attempt to add depth and shore up a position, and adding a waiver-eligible goalie and putting another netminder on waivers to make room would be counter-productive.
WAIVER ELIGIBLE GOALIES
Based on my research, here’s a big list of which goalies require waivers to get sent to the AHL as of today. In brackets are the number of goalies each team has under contract.
- ANAHEIM: Frederik Andersen & Anton Khudobin (4 goalies under contract)
- ARIZONA: Mike Smith & Anders Lindback (4 goalies under contract)
- BOSTON: Tuukka Rask & Jeremy Smith (4 goalies under contract)
- BUFFALO: Robin Lehner & Chad Johnson (5 goalies under contract)
- CAROLINA: Cam Ward & Eddie Lack & Drew McIntyre (6 goalies under contract)
- CHICAGO: Corey Crawford & Scott Darling & Michael Leighton (3 goalies under contract)
- COLORADO: Semyon Varlamov & Reto Berra (5 goalies under contract)
- COLUMBUS: Sergei Bobrovsky & Curtis McElhinney (5 goalies under contract)
- DALLAS: Kari Lehtonen & Antti Niemi (6 goalies under contract)
- DETROIT: Jimmy Howard & Tom McCalllum (5 goalies under contract) (Petr Mrazek is back-up and exempt)
- EDMONTON: Cam Talbot, Ben Scrivens & Anders Lindback (6 goalies under contract)
- FLORIDA: Roberto Luongo & Al Montoya & Mike McKenna (5 goalies under contract)
- LOS ANGELES: Jonathan Quick & Jhonas Enroth & J.F. Berube (4 goalies under contract)
- MINNESOTA: Devan Dubnyk & Nicklas Backstrom & Darcy Kuemper (5 goalies under contract)
- MONTREAL: Dustin Tokarski & Carey Price (4 goalies under contract)
- NASHVILLE: Pekka Rinne & Carter Hutton (4 goalies under contract)
- NEW JERSEY: Cory Schneider & Keith Kinkaid & Yann Danis (4 goalies under contract)
- NY ISLANDERS: Jaroslav Halak & Thomas Greiss & Kevin Poulin (4 goalies under contract)
- NY RANGERS: Henrik Lundqvist & Antti Raanta (5 goalies under contract)
- OTTAWA: Craig Anderson & Andrew Hammond (4 goalies under contract)
- PHILADELPHIA: Steve Mason & Michal Neuvirth & Jason LaBarbara (4 goalies under contract)
- PITTSBURGH: Marc-Andre Fleury & Jeff Zatkoff (4 goalies under contract)
- SAN JOSE: Martin Jones, Troy Groesnick & Alex Stalock & Aaron Dell (5 goalies under contract)
- ST. LOUIS: Brian Elliott & Jake Allen (6 goalies under contract)
- TAMPA BAY: Ben Bishop (4 goalies under contract) (Kaspers Gudlevskis is probably back-up and is exempt)
- TORONTO: James Reimer & Jonathan Bernier (5 goalies under contract)
- VANCOUVER: Ryan Miller & Jacob Markstrom & Richard Bachman (4 goalies under contract)
- WASHINGTON: Braden Holtby & Justin Peters & Philipp Grubauer & Dan Ellis (5 goalies under contract)
- WINNIPEG: Ondrej Pavelec & Michael Hutchinson (4 goalies under contact)
Here’s what I’ve come up with based on the gigantic list.
BOSTON: Jeremy Smith probably is about as good as Joni Ortio (maybe a bit worse), and is even less established. He’d clear waivers if he got sent through. They only have four goalies with deals. And Ortio could learn a fair bit from Tuukka Rask.
COLORADO: Nobody wants Reto Berra as their back-up. He’s not good. Ortio probably is an upgrade. Colorado already has five goalies with deals, though.
FLORIDA: Their back-up is Al Montoya, who is not good. They also have five guys with contracts.
NEW JERSEY: Their back-up is Keith Kinkaid. Ortio’s probably an upgrade. They only have four goalies under contract, so there’s possibly room.
PITTSBURGH: Jeff Zatkoff is a minor-leaguer, but they have five goalies under contract right now.
SAN JOSE: They have five guys under contract, four of them require waivers, and nobody who really screams “reliable back-up.”
RAMO & HILLER
Now, take a look at the above list of teams and goalies, and ask yourself if there’s a team that really needs to acquire Karri Ramo or Jonas Hiller to shore up their goaltending. Let’s ignore the cap issue right now and just focus on roles. Unless a team has a horrific injury to a big-name netminder, nobody is going out of their way to grab an established goalie from the NHL’s league-average team in goaltending. It doesn’t make sense from a strategic asset management perspective.
And just about nobody has the cap space to spend $3.9 (or $4.5) million on a back-up. Even with injuries, nobody has the appetite – and few have the ability – to add that much bank right now. (The teams with cap space are likely the ones that want to be bad this year and have no interest in improving or taking on cap hits.)
ARE MOVES COMING?
I’m sure that the Flames are looking for moves regarding goaltending. But based on how the market looks right now, I don’t even think it’s a certainty that their $600,000 goalie gets claimed off waivers. Ortio’s not a known quantity right now, not yet, and most teams have their own internal Ortio – a goalie that they’re hoping will pan out and they don’t want to cash-out on yet.
In other words, I wouldn’t be shocked if Ortio joins Jon Gillies in Stockton this season.