Who Might Claim Joni Ortio Off Waivers?

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.


Okay, what teams would want to claim Ortio off waivers? Well, here’s the qualifications I’ve come up with.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.


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.”


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.)


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.

    • Parallex

      “And just about nobody has the cap space to spend $3.9 (or $4.5) million on a back-up.”

      Not to be to critical but I see statements like this (not just here but frequently here) and it just doesn’t reflect the current state of the NHL contract. Namely in that salary retention is allowed… the question isn’t whether someone has the cap space to spend $3.9 (or $4.5) million on a back-up it’s whether someone has the cap space to spend $1.95 (or $2.25) million on a back-up.

      Besides which Hiller and Ramo are better then your average back-up and with retained salary a team could easily flip either later and recoup whatever asset was lost on the initial transaction.

    • This only became a discussion when Mark Spector said his typical dumb Spector piece yesterday and implied that (third stringer somehow) Jonas Hiller should be traded to TB to make up for Vasilevsky’s injury.

      Which is asinine.

      I still have no idea why the Flames brought Ramo back, but it seems to me like they intend to have all three guys in the fold.

      • Parallex

        The Hiller to Tampa idea probably does not happen unless Bishop is not fully recovered or Tampa doesn’t believe he can handle a big playing load early in the season.

      • RedMan

        My theory to make sense of the Ramo resigning is that Hiller has been dissatisfied or asked for a trade based on being pulled and then benched during the playoffs.

        Hence the Flames try to land Jones/Talbot etc with the idea of trading Hiller away somehow. Failing that they choose to keep Karri Ramo, figuring on sitting Ortio behind him.

        I don’t know who would need Hiller (Flames probably holding some $) but I’m waiting to see if my theory is correct…

        • Train#97

          They may be looking to trade a goalie but they certainly are trading from a point of weakness by having 3 guys that will have to clear waivers. It’s good in a way that in creates competition between the pipes.
          I wouldn’t say they are top notch goalies but did a good job last year overall for Calgary.

          • Train#97

            You may be right.

            Ramo’s contract is a lot to pay for this competition, or to bury in Stockton immediately. I think they’re trying to trade someone, and since they signed Ramo it’s either Ortio or Hiller.

    • RedMan

      three goalies in the NHL – not likely for long.

      the other thing is, one of Ramo or Hiller can be sent down also, and according to what you say, the lack of interest wold ensure that they cleared, and if they didn’t, problem solved.

      Maybe the Flames put both Ramo and Hiller on waivers, and if nobody claims either, the team can rotate up and down as their level of play merits.

      • RedMan

        I was actually thinking the same thing. Personally I want who ever earns the jobin training camp and preseason to get the jobs(this applies to all positions) Having ope competition with valid replacements is a nice change. I see 13 of the 23 positions as locked up. None of the goalies is a lock but 2 of the three will be here. 5 of the 7 defenders are a lock with as many as 6/7 pushing for the two jobs. I count 8 positions up front as locks with 10+ players fighting it out for the 6 positions. Like most I can’t wait.

    • Parallex

      You have Anders Lindback listed twice for some reason. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t play for the Oilers.

      Also, there’s no evidence that Kristers Gudlevskis is ready to be a backup in the NHL. It was likely intended to be Vasilevskiy, though with the injury you have to think Tampa is looking for a temporary fix.

    • RedMan

      By my analysis Buffalo, Islanders, Nashville, Boston and Florida “could” all have interest in Hilller or Ramo and have the cap space especially when you consider that the Flames could retain salary.

    • I think it will be Hiller with Ortio backing him up and Ramo on waivers to start the season. Given that Ramo is likely not on anyones radar nor a need that any team has right now he will be the insurance in Stockton while Gillies learns to be a pro. Should there be an injury (knock on wood) to HIller or Ortio Ramo can be called up with Gillies shouldering the requirements in Stockton.

      It’s not the worst situation to have given our instability in NET in Calgary and the history of unfortunate injuries occuring at unfortunate times here.

      Should things go well for Ortio here one of HIller or Ramo could potentially be moved later on depending on what the situation is around the league closer to deadline day.

      But there’s no doubt in my mind either Ramo or Hiller will be off the books before it’s time to extend Gaudreau, Monahan, and Hudler.

    • KACaribou

      If the Flames don’t trade either Hiller or Ramo and let Ortio become available on waivers wow, another good job of wiping out good moves with stupid ones by Tree (including Ferkland) and destroying the legacy he built!

      Who would pick up Ortio? Ah, OILERS!

      Holy shit of he stones the Flames for the next 10 years because of a bad Tree move wow!

      Maybe he will put Ferly on waivers too, and the Oilers can pick him up because Tree wants to scrimp for that extra $100 g despite giving Engelland $3 million!

      Tree has made great moves but WTF is he doing with these two?

      Could you imagine Ferley crushing our little Flames forward or whoosy D because Tree didn’t want to give him $1 million/year but only $850,000? Or let Ortio go on waivers too?

      Hoping Tree is just being over cautious and will come to his senses. Don’t blame the players. They aren’t asking for that much in Bazarro Hockey Terms.

    • Train#97

      I was actually surprised when Calgary signed ramo as a free agent. They may not be able to trade one of their goalies except Ortio because he has a sweet contract.
      Like the article says who is gonna trade or even take ramo or hillier off waivers with the contracts they have for a backup.?

    • Nighteyes

      Ramo has more upside than we give him credit I think. Goalies have a potential to improve much later than skaters usually. During the playoffs, he showed he was pretty clutch and kept the Flames in a lot those games, especially against Anaheim. I think that’s one of the reasons BT resigned him. I’m guessing we will see Hiller go some time soon.

    • Bananaberg

      Good article. I was curious to know whether teams might potentially have demand for a backup out there, but it looks like everyone is pretty full up.

      Can’t say I hate where the Flames are sitting right now. Three NHL-level goalies with 1-year deals — it would be a shame if Ortio got snagged off waivers before we gave him a few years of NHL experience, but it looks like that’s a low probability outcome.

      Injuries always happen — there will be demand at some point in the season for one (or both) or Ramo and Hiller. The decision at that point for BT will be whether or not he wants to pull the trigger or keep the 1A/1B rotation going this year.

      • Bananaberg

        Agree. Ortio’s sample size is so small that there is a very very good chance he would clear waivers at the end of training camp. If not, we move on. Many on FN really like Ortio’s small amount of work to date but I personally do not see him as a future franchise goalie for the Flames. He doesn’t have that 1st round pick reputation, he’s just a very good prospect goalie to all the other teams have in their systems. Ramo & Hiller have legit NHL resumes & are known commodities. Their value will be the highest at the TDL. So barring injury, my money is where Ryan says, Ramo & Hiller to start the year & Ortio clearing waivers & joining Gilles in Stockton. Ortio will enjoy a good paycheque in sunny California until one of Ramo or Hiller are moved in February.