Flames place Karri Ramo on waivers

Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports

It’s official: the three-headed Cerebrus goaltending monster that the Calgary Flames entered this season with, is dead.

On Wednesday the Calgary Flames reportedly placed Karri Ramo and his lucrative $3.8 million contract on waivers, presumably for the purpose of reassignment (or even better, shedding the asset entirely). If Ramo clears he can be reassigned to Stockton of the American League, while the Flames retain $2.85 million of his salary cap hit.

The Flames have handled their goaltenders in baffling fashion for the past few months. We all knew that Jonas Hiller had a year remaining on his deal and Joni Ortio would require waivers this season, so it was strange when the Flames handed Ramo an expensive one-year contract. 

It was stranger still when the club carried three netminders into the regular season, something that has never ended well for any goaltender or team involved.

Luckily it would seem that they’ve made the obvious choice here, though it’s unfortunate that it took them this long to work it out (and that they’ll carry a cap penalty if Ramo clears, or lose an asset for nothing if he doesn’t). Jonas Hiller is the better goaltender and has outperformed Ramo consistently, both throughout his career and throughout their Flames tenure. Ortio, meanwhile, as Ryan Pike argued this weekend, has more upside and need to at least get reps rather than gathering cobwebs and eating popcorn in the Saddledome press box. 

What’s perhaps most interesting about these mechanics is what it suggests about the inner workings of Calgary’s brain trust. As Mark Spector pointed out on Twitter (it’s Spector day at FlamesNation.ca, by the way), Ramo has generally been Bob Hartley’s preferred option in net:

If Hartley is running out of rope to make the decisions in net, could he be running out of rope more generally? 

Because of Ramo’s price tag, I’d suggest that there’s a better than average chance that he’ll clear waivers. On the other hand, a team like the Buffalo Sabres could certainly afford to take on Ramo’s salary and has a clear need for a goaltender’s services. 

  • Burnward

    I don’t think if BT could have traded him by now, he would have.

    Sure, last night was probably the straw that broke the Camels back, but I don’t think it was against Hartley’s wishes in any way.

    A move we all saw coming eventually, I just hope someone picks him up.

    • travisbell

      It’s true. It was a weird re-signing from day 1. If they truly think Ortio is a piece of the future they should have started Hiller and let Ortio back him up to get experience. You know, the usual way to let a goaltender into the NHL to gain experience…

      • everton fc

        One of the bad moves this off-season.

        Here’s hoping Hamilton isn’t the other!

        Ortio’s chance, next game. If they play like they did last year in front of him, Hiller will see many games on the bench, probably request a trade, and you move him.

        Here’s hoping…

        But to me, Hiller’s a cooler cat in the net. Which is why he’s had a relatively good career, as a starter. (The Blue Jackets could certainly use him!)

        • travisbell

          > One of the bad moves this off-season.
          > Here’s hoping Hamilton isn’t the other!

          Hamilton did not look good last night. I felt embarrassed for him. He got totally schooled by the Caps. If this is what a $5.7 mil contract looks… ouch. I pray to the hockey gods that he’s just having a hard time getting started this season.

          • mattyc

            Thing about Hamilton is he’s 22 and he’s now playing first pair for a team that uses a system that bears no resemblance whatsoever to the one he had in Boston.

            Much easier to play first pairing minutes when you’re on the ice with Patrice Bergeron, too.

          • travisbell

            Yup, for sure. Plus if Brodie hadn’t gone down it’s unlikely he’d be getting these minutes with Gio so it’s not really going the way the brass planned I’m sure.

          • mattyc

            Move Kulak up with Gio and demote Hamilton to play with Russell and have him work his way back up. Move Wideman down to 3rd pairing.

            The 3 headed goalie situation was all Tre’s doing. A deal for Hiller fell through at the last minute after he signed Ramo, IMHO. Let’s play Ortio in the nets tonight. OR if Hiller starts and falters put in Ortio to get some game experience at the minimum!

            Alternating goalies is terrible as it stands now because they are just alternating losses. Yes, I agree give Ortio at least 2 in a row.

        • Danny Lawson

          After being disillusioned with Hamilton thus far I’ve done some digging at various sites to get the book on the young man. Observations voiced actually reinforce what my own opinion. Big smooth skating but butter soft and lacking hockey IQ.
          I guess what we can hope for is a JayBo type d-man with less grit & questionable decision making. Hmmmm

          • piscera.infada

            I literally can’t find one scouting report the questions his ability to think the game. All reports saying he thinks the game at a high level but as a young defenseman is prone to defensive zone lapses, which is common for a 22 year old d-man. Keep in mind this guy was playing with Chara a hell of a lot who did of the heavy lifting defensively. keep spewing garbage that fits your narrative though

    • mattyc

      Sure, but what tangible downside is there? We don’t need all our cap space this year. Unlikely he gets picked up anyways. I’m sure if someone wanted him they would have paid a late pick to not risk someone picking Ramo before them on the waiver wire.

      Edit: of course unless the ‘someone’ that wants him is at the top of the waiver wire… then ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        • mattyc

          I think the upside was the potential to get a good return for Hiller. Gave them more options. Although, I don’t understand why they didn’t demote Ramo at the roster deadline. Not sure what realistic change in the trade market they thought they had…

          I’ll miss Byron, but there’s lots of Byron-esque players to hit the waiver wire. Byron is the Dustin Boyd of our time 😉

          Edit: I’ll add again that I *really* hope this was their line of thinking. They’ve had plenty of time to evaluate Hiller vs. Ramo, so I hope this isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to the first 6 games, and rather just accepting they’re not going to be able to trade Ramo.

          • Cfan in Vic

            An aside from this:

            They may well get Byron back in the off-season. He loved his time in Calgary, hasn’t seen any action in Montreal, and would probably take a do-over on this years contract. Depends on how many holes there are to fill in the roster next year, but I think the future is less clear than it was 2 weeks ago.

  • Big Ell

    I am wondering if Hartley and Tree don’t get along. Hartley is a Feaster hire and doesn’t seem to want to play the style Tree talks about. I don’t know but this season has some weird optics thus far.

    • DestroDertell

      I wouldn’t buy any of that.. after all, BT signed Hartley to a contract extension after an 8 game losing streak last season!

      I have never heard anything but support from the management.

      • DoubleDIon

        Byron will continue to be a healthy scratch in Montreal as long as the Habs keep winning and there are no injuries…Hartley would have him already as a spark plug.

      • Greg

        Didn’t BT extend Hartley? If they don’t get along, he had his chance to make a change. BT spoke glowingly of Hartley last year.

        Some weird optics indeed, but I’m not convinced there’s any kind of issue there yet.

  • Big Ell

    I was at the game yesterday and Ramo played with my emotions…..makes spectacular saves followed by letting in horribly weak shots. Hiller isn’t that much better but atleast we know what we get in him …….It’ll be interesting to see if Ortio makes the best of this news.

  • beloch

    Hiller was the better goalie last season, but he’s getting old. Ramo is younger and was thought to have more upside. So, what do you do when the guy who might be better this season is about to walk? A one year deal made sense at the time it was inked. The only downside is that this deal reserved some cap space that the team needed to save for this summer anyways. (Edit: Okay, losing Byron sucked too.)

    Ortio has likely not played so far because Hiller and Ramo were being intensively evaluated. Now that Hiller has been given the nod, we should expect Ortio to see action soon.

    Hiller’s 0.867 save percentage isn’t exactly stellar. It’s not as bad as it looks given how many juicy scoring chances the Flames have given up so far, but it’s still not exactly good. It shouldn’t be too difficult for Ortio to show he’s ready for some starts.

  • Mullen7

    I think now that Ramo’s demoted we might see Hiller’s play settle a bit as well. Even though this season’s platoon system started in a similar way to last year I think the instability of three goalies added more pressure to his (and Ramo’s) play.

    • everton fc

      Hiller’s save percentage is a fluke. But I think Ortio will become the # 1 guy, soon enough.

      If he [Ortio] crashes like the other two thus far, as long as Ramo clears waivers, he can always be called up again. And waiving Ortio if he looks bad will decrease his chances of being claimed.

      All in a perfect world, hey?!

  • Sanintarious

    This whole situation reminds me of that scene in MONEY BALL when the Manager for the A’s refuses to play Hatty at first base. Finally A’s GM Brad trades the guy so he has no choice but to play Hatty at first base.

    Ie for some odd reason Bobby insists on playing Ramo and loves the guy. Only way Brad could change that is by putting Ramo on waivers.

    YOUR move Bob.

    • ClayBort

      Historically, yes Ramo is by a decent margin.

      Tokarski is a media darling because of an uncharacteristically strong 3 game stretch at the end of the season in 2013 with 2 games in the playoffs. Besides that, his ES SV% numbers have been well below replacement level (wandering somewhere in between .880 and .910).

      Both goalies are what they are, Tokarski being a good journeyman AHL starter at best, and Ramo a replacement level backup at the NHL level if we look past his start this season.

  • ClayBort

    Treliving rectifies his mistake. Better late than never I suppose.

    Chad Johnson’s numbers in BUF are only slightly better than Ramo’s. Perhaps Murray takes a chance on Ramo now, seeing as the only cost to acquire him would be a roster spot and $.

    If Ramo doesn’t clear, would the Flames make it clear to Ryan Huska that Gillies should remain his starter for the sake of development?

  • Sanintarious

    Another “positive” sign at practice. Bollig not on a line today. But the d-parings are UGGGGLLLY.


    Forward lines I don’t mind.

    Huds and the boys back together


    • Cfan in Vic

      As much as I’d love that to be the case… I’ll believe it when I see it. Hartley has had the rosiest colored Bollig glasses on all season, so far.

      I’d be surprised if they didn’t send Smid down for a conditioning stint, and keep Kulak up. He’s clearly been the bright spot on his mostly tarnished team.

    • Derbyherb

      We’re not seriously going to throw Smid back into game-action? Because what the team needs right now, is another slow vet coming off a long-term injury taking a spot of a young player. The guy should at the bare minimum go to the AHL on a conditioning stint.

    • Cfan in Vic

      Oh Man. Listen to these geniuses. So nice of them to share their well informed thoughts with us.

      With the Flames play lately, these comment sections have eroded even further. Woo-hoo. Coming to terms with the teams play is one thing, but maybe it’s time to shy away from the comment section too. Shame.

  • Randaman

    So Hartley is going to sit one of the lone bright spots of this horrendous defense, for an older, slower, virtually useless vet, who hasn’t played a game in what, over a calendar year?

    I sincerely hope Tre is looking at other options for head coach. Bob is clueless in every way.

  • Greg

    Question: where does the story line of “Ramo is hartley’s” favorited come from?

    I mean, Hiller played 52 games last year. Ramo played, what, 34? That seems totally in line with the split I’d expect from their stat lines, not biased towards one being favoured over the other.

    Seems just as plausible to me that after that stinker goal last night, Hartley lost patience and told BT to pull the trigger…

  • Greg

    Also, this is an all good news kind of thing. If Ramo is claimed, we lost (and gained) nothing by resigning him. If he clears, you have a deep injury insurance plan waiting on the farm.

    I still suspect that was the reason for offering him such an inflated contract… It was cap space we wouldn’t use this year anyway and would reduce the odds someone would claim him so he could be kept in the system. The thought of what you’d do if Hiller goes down and your plans B and C were both rookies must have concerned BT in the off season.

  • Randaman

    I seem to remember that Oilers were interested in Ramo, and then we re-signed him. And then the oilers were interested in Talbot and we tried to steal that deal as well. Then oilers talked about offer sheet on Hamilton and we traded for and re-signed him.

    Maybe our GM is only trying to block out the oilers…

    • RKD

      I am pretty sure, teams have not been concerned about the Oilers for several years. It just happens that the areas the Flames needed to strengthen were some of many the Oilers needed to improve.

  • Greg

    Treliving can make up for his mistakes with a decent trade or two or he could implode totally….

    Wideman should have been traded in the off-season after his best year, Raymond should have been sent to the minors after no one claimed him.

    If he can get rid of Bollig and Engelland as well as Ramo. We don’t need another goalie in Stockton; the rookie needs all the work he can get….

    • Tomas Oppolzer

      I agree with most of what you’re saying. Raymond isn’t the issue though. He’s been one of the best players in CGYs fwd group. IMO, only Gaudreau and Frolik have been consistently better.