Joni Ortio clears waivers, likely to be assigned to Stockton Heat

A rash of recent goaltending injuries throughout the NHL
made the prospect of finally waiving Joni Ortio even scarier than it already
was. Having started just two of the Flames’ first 22 games of the season,
though, and with Jonas Hiller set to return, it was finally time to execute the
obvious solution to the Flames’ three-goalie conundrum.

It turns out those fears that plagued the Flames all season
long were ultimately unfounded, as 29 teams took a pass, and Ortio cleared
waivers. He’ll likely be assigned to the Stockton Heat who, after injuries to both
Jon Gillies and Kevin Poulin, are in desperate need of a goalie. 

Ortio is in desperate need of playing time, so it’s a fit.

Ever since the Flames re-signed Karri Ramo, you had to
wonder what that meant for Ortio’s season, if not his future with the
organization. He’d shown some promise in the AHL, being on the rookie team in
his first season, and an AHL All-Star his second; but he was still
inconsistent, going from a .926 save percentage to a .912.

All the while, he got in a bit of NHL experience, where he
ranged from all-worldly – including a shutout – to struggling, being pulled a
handful of times.

Really, the perfect solution would have been to send Ortio
to the AHL to start the season for further development, but his first year of waiver
eligibility made that a gamble the Flames weren’t willing to take until they
finally had no choice. Having two NHL-level goalies and nobody in the AHL
forced their hand. 

Ortio had a .868 save percentage over four games this NHL
season: two starts and two relief efforts.

Hopefully, this move works out in everybody’s favour. Ortio
can work on developing consistency, and giving Stockton the stable backend
presence they’ve yet to truly have all season (Gillies, while occasionally
great, is still a rookie, and prone to good and bad games). Hiller
and Ramo can go back to the tandem that brought the Flames success last season,
and maybe give their team relief and confidence in net that they were missing
to start the year.

And this doesn’t even mean the end of Ortio’s time with the
Flames this season. With both Hiller and Ramo unrestricted free agents, and the
Flames still a rebuilding team, it’s possible one, or even both, gets traded,
and Ortio could be recalled. And with a number of starts under his belt by
then, along with receiving regular playing time, he might just be
ready.

Meanwhile, it seems the Flames have wasted no time in filling up Ortio’s vacated roster spot:

This gives the Flames 14 forwards, seven defencemen (albeit one assigned on conditioning stint), and two goalies: pretty much how things should be. Hopefully Markus Granlund gets regular playing time.

  • JC333

    Still believe he would’ve been claimed in October. This gives him some more seasoning until Bob is gone. Not the worst thing. Hopefully, he doesn’t leave come summer.

    • everton fc

      Dodged a bullet, though here’s hoping he doesn’t fall to pieces in Stockton.

      It’s good he didn’t play up here; kept whatever potential he had, hidden. Until they sort out the goalie situation (very poor asset management, by the way), Ortio is condemned to reps in the minors. Which will prove what kind of attitude he has, how loyal and dedicated to the organization he is, and so on. With the goalie disaster in Stockton, he’ll also get multiple starts. He’ll need to be above a .910 save percentage to prove he’s not a fluke.

      As for Arnold, he’s given nothing offencively. Grant deserves the call up over Arnold. Granlund, over all the rest.

      Perhaps Grandlund’s call up is part of something bigger, involving Hudler? Jooris can play RW. So can Colborne…

      • JC333

        Arnold has given nothing offensively?? The game is much more than just offence. Flames are struggling big time on specialty teams, face-offs, work ethic! Arnold gets a check in all areas….

        • everton fc

          He does. I agree. But they called up Grant over him already. We need guys who can play in the NHL right now. Perhaps Arnold isn’t ready – perhaps that’s the logic? He is also called on to score. He did last year. And we need scoring, on top of all the other things mentioned above.

          Arnold will get his looks, soon enough. We need to see what value some of these guys like Granlund and Grant have right now. Arnold’s time will come – if he earns it.

          Mike Caderette; what’s your take on Arnold thus far, this season?

          • Burnward

            Arnold has earned a chance to play with the big team. He’s been in the organization for more than two years and has been a constant producer. would be great to have some fresh blood up on this team, both with Arnold and Grant. Maybe we put both Backlund and Stajen on waivers to create some space. I’m sure there will be a lot of bitching about this also management won’t like paying that kind of money for them to be in the minors. With this said though the results would be a wait and see. Look at what Backlund and Stajen have produced so far this year, squat nothing. The game against Anahiem was pathetic, The Flames looked slow always a step behind. Kesler tossed Backlund around like a rag doll.

            We need players here who want to fight to play not just show up to collect their pay.

          • T&A4Flames

            Put Stajan and Backlund on waivers? That is the worst idea I may have ever read. Both would be claimed with 0 assets coming back our way. Say what you will about them but both are still valuable assets.

          • RealMcHockeyReturns

            Really and what are we going to get as an asset for either of them! Both are such big point producers just burning up the league with their numbers. We have enough mentors in the dressing room to hold hands. Oh it must be all the face-offs that they win. Both command large contracts that only hurt our cap space.
            I’m sorry in my last comment I forgot to throw Mason Raymond in with those two, another fat contract that we are going to stuck with for at least another year. If these players are so hot to you that were going to get all these assets back for, why then are not other teams in the league pounding down the doors looking for a trade?
            The answer is very simple look at their play and their contracts. So the only way to move players out for the team to make room is by waivers. You think management is going to bye them out. Maybe the best is to keep playing them and have a good shot at first overall draft pick in the spring…

          • Burnward

            I could tear this post apart in so, so many ways…. BUT I cant decide which so I’m just going to leave by saying that you are absolutely clueless and know nothing about hockey.

          • RealMcHockeyReturns

            Really and what are we going to get as an asset for either of them! Both are such big point producers just burning up the league with their numbers. We have enough mentors in the dressing room to hold hands. Oh it must be all the face-offs that they win. Both command large contracts that only hurt our cap space.
            I’m sorry in my last comment I forgot to throw Mason Raymond in with those two, another fat contract that we are going to stuck with for at least another year. If these players are so hot to you that were going to get all these assets back for, why then are not other teams in the league pounding down the doors looking for a trade?
            The answer is very simple look at their play and their contracts. So the only way to move players out for the team to make room is by waivers. You think management is going to bye them out. Maybe the best is to keep playing them and have a good shot at first overall draft pick in the spring…

      • RealMcHockeyReturns

        Anyone who says “poor asset management” by Treliving is WRONG. Here is why:

        I think Bob Harlety and Treliving purposedly decided to run with the veteran Ramo to give him confidence and hopefully get better results AND ALSO hide any possible good starts by Ortio (by not playing him) so they COULD eventually put him in minors to play more and develop more for future usage.

        Next year, Flames can re-sign Ortio cheaply like this year, that’s GOOD asset management again to keep him for future when playoffs are FAR more likely.

      • everton fc

        Ortio will need a save% far above .910 in the AHL to prove that he is even a capable backup at the NHL level. If he doesn’t post something close to a .925 sv% I would not hold out too much hope for him.

  • piscera.infada

    If this season keeps going the way it’s been going, we’ll see him back around the new year. The best course of action for all involved is for Ortio to play well in the AHL, for the Flames to recall him, and him to prove through the back half of the season that he’s at least capable of being a time-share NHL goalie.

  • SickFloBro

    Your previous articles about Ortio not being claimed were bang on! Nice call.

    As much as I like Granlund I’m surprised Bill Arnold was not called. He is particularly strong on face-offs and penalty kill which are the two areas the Flames are struggling with….time to think player development and clearing cap space in exchange for draft choices.

    Ari…would like to see an article from you on the 2015 top draft prospects…..

  • SickFloBro

    I’m definitely very relieved to have him still in the fold.

    He hasn’t played many games – it may take him a few to get going and regain his form, folks. Let’s not hang him out to dry after a bad start or two.

  • Big Ell

    I hate to say but Ortio clearing waivers may be a classic case of fans overvaluing their own prospects. His .868 save pct. probably didn’t help either. Hopefully he kicks ass in Stockton and proves a solid 1-2 punch with Gillies.

  • everton fc

    So relieved Ortio cleared. While he may not turn out to be the world-beater we all hope he becomes, there’s still definitely some upside that remains untapped. If I’m Edmonton, Vancouver, Arizona, I’d be claiming him just to see the look on Treliving’s face. Yeah, it’s not a huge blow, but neither was Paul Byron, and I’d rather see him playing over Bollig, just as I’d rather see Ortio play over Kevin Poulin or even Hiller/Ramo at this point.

    Bill Arnold has been nothing but great in the AHL barring injury. He scored last night actually and has 3 goals on the season, and his lack of overall production can be attributed to the Heat not clicking like they should.

  • RKD

    Glad Ortio is still our property with the Poulin injury Ortio can get the playing time he needs to build his confidence. Sitting as a backup without any playing time is a waste for him.

  • everton fc

    Thank goodness – our depth is goal isn’t what it used to be!

    Ortio will be back at the trade deadline – barring injury – if the Flames can move Hiller. If they don’t move Hiller, he will ride into the sunset…Flames will re-sign Ramo…

    AS per Hartley not liking Ortio – well, the goalie’s coach may have some say in who plays…if the goalie coach says that Ramo would give the team a better chance to win than Ortio = HArtley would accept that.

    As for Montreal nabbing Ortio, not a chance = they have Tokarski for short term. If Price was gone for the season, they would be looking at a veteran goalie like Hiller…