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. 

  • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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!)

        • 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

        • 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

            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.

          • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?!

  • Cfan in Vic

    Guys, guys – If Ramo or Hiller had gone on a hot streak like they did last year then the goalie answer would have been determined and they would definitely trade one (hopefully Ramo). They didn’t. So they took a gamble signing Ramo. So what. GMs should do that.
    The next question is does Ortio get a bunch of starts in a row? Does Bob feel the pressure to win a game (start Hiller) and Tree wants to see Ortio play? The next goalie starts will be telling…
    I wonder if we shouldn’t put Hamilton in the box for one game like they did Gaudreau last year at this time, with a minder to keep him focused on watching the game?
    Halloween is coming and this is getting scary…

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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


    • 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

      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.

  • Cfan in Vic

    We are still in the middle of a rebuild. Yes they made it to the second round. Yes expectations were higher coming into this season. It’s like everyone including the Calgary Flames themselves figured it was going to be easy. It’s not and it won’t be, EVER!

  • Cfan in Vic

    I don’t think you have seen the end of changes with the Flames goaltending….I think Treliving is on the search for an experienced goaltender. Hiller like Ramo is inconsistent but remains valuable until another goalie is brought in or Ortio/Gillies prove they are ready to carry the load….

  • Cfan in Vic

    I’m assuming they signed ramo to trade him (or hiller) later on for assets… That obviously isn’t happening, it might with ramo on a cheaper deal though. Or they’re making cap room for another deal.

    • Cfan in Vic

      I kind of get that sense too.. BT had every reason to put Ramo on waivers after last nights game, but if the rumors are true that he has been working the phones, he could have a potential deal in place.

      GMs will often place player on waivers first to see if anyone will take them for free, before taking a contract back in return.

  • piscera.infada

    Flames waived the wrong goalie, Hiller should’ve been let go. His weak performance in the playoffs combined with a general lazy style in net has cost the flames routinely. Ramo has let in a couple weak goals but has stood on his head enough to earn his keep. Regardless, I think it’s silly not to start Ortio at this point, give him a shot. Going back to Hiller after a generally lazy performance in relief sends the wrong message.

    Isn’t this really a defence problem anyway, Dougie Hamilton has been laying an egg all season. He’s undisciplined, takes too many penalties and is legitimately at fault on many of the goals he’s been on the ice for this season. Send him to the third line until he matures, or else we’ll be stuck with another phaneuf disaster.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • CowtownKid13

    I guess the Flames will be using a shooter tutor in practice now that Ramo is gonna be gone. Unless they finally realize they still have Ortio on their NHL roster.

  • RKD

    Sounds like they never really wanted to resign Ramo in the first place. Everyone says he’s younger and cheaper but he’s not the better goaltender. He was supposed to take his sterling performance in the KHL and translate it over. Hasn’t happened yet. The Flames are probably better off without both Hiller and Ramo, neither could take the ball and run with it. Ortio should be starting games, but Treliving needs to find a #1 starter won’t be easy though.

  • piscera.infada

    Flames are a young team still developing and last year created unrealistic expectations. Flames fans are starting to sound like Oiler fans of the last few years very angry and want to trade or fire everyone. Rebuilds are ugly but try to support your team things will get better for starters the management is solid in Calgary and I look forward to a great rivalry again for the battle of Alberta. What rock did WW crawl under? like some Oiler trolls no where to be seen during tough times.