Trade Deadline Risk and Reward: Karri Ramo

With the trade deadline three weeks away, the Calgary Flames face four decisions with pending unrestricted free agent players. In each situation, the Flames need to decide whether to make a move prior to the deadline or to keep the player beyond February 29th with the eye to potentially re-signing him. Each case is different which is why we’ll take a look at all four players. 

We’ll start with Karri Ramo, because I think he presents the most interesting case. There are compelling cases on each side, so what makes the most sense for Ramo’s future?

We’ll follow a similar format in all of these pieces, taking a look at the pros and cons of both sides. Remember, Calgary has other trade options beyond their pending UFA’s, but those options don’t pose the same ultimatum. Trade or keep? Let’s look at Ramo.

Trade him

Risk: Ramo has been Calgary’s best goaltender this year, and it’s not even a debate. As such, trading him will leave the team with a rather large hole to fill in a critical position. The biggest risk with trading Ramo is the likely steep drop off we’ll see between the pipes. Jonas Hiller looks like his time as a capable everyday starter is behind him. Joni Ortio and Kevin Poulin are interesting options in Stockton, but neither have exhibited traits that suggest being a full time number one is in the cards. Both have shown flashes at different times in their career, but to count on either one for significant NHL minutes is a rather risky proposition.

Trading Ramo also leaves the Flames with a question mark for next season. Who the heck is going to give them number one minutes next year? There are potential options for Calgary in free agency and via the trade market, but until they’re consummated, they remain only that: potential. Personally it’s a risk I’d be willing to take in the right circumstance, but it is still a gamble.

Reward: I honestly believe Ramo is one of Calgary’s top trade pieces, if not their most attractive one. With the way Ramo has played over the last two plus months, I think a number of teams would be interested in his services.

Since December 1st, Ramo has given the Flames number one quality goaltending. He’s gone 11-10-1 in that span with a 0.921 save percentage and a 0.925 mark at even strength. That’s the longest he’s ever gone in his NHL career playing at that level. In the right circumstance I’m very confident Ramo could find a home, and bring back a solid return, around the deadline.

It’s important to stress the right circumstance, though. I don’t think Ramo would be sought after as a number one. Instead, I think his best fit is with a playoff team looking for insurance and an upgrade at backup behind their established starter. Teams want to manage their number one’s minutes down the stretch to keep them as fresh as possible for the postseason. Ramo could absolutely help a team do that.

Think about it for a second. If a team has, say, 19 games remaining after the deadline, they might want to give Ramo in the neighborhood of nine starts. Ramo could give his new team decent goaltending and a chance to win as they jockey for seeding. More importantly, though, that team’s number one could be managed in a more ideal manner. Ramo also comes on an expiring contract which means no further obligation from the team acquiring him. All in all, I think he would be attractive and a second round pick (or perhaps more) isn’t out of the question.

Also, and in direct relation to the first part of the risk section here, is it really an awful thing if the team does have a drop off in net? Calgary has fleeting playoff chances at the very best, while the more realistic chance is there for a really nice draft selection. Dealing Ramo helps in potentially two ways: it gets the team an asset and it makes the team weaker in the immediacy. That’s the only practical way the theory of “tanking” makes any sense. The short term pain of a bad end to the season could easily be offset by the long term gain of another high end prospect.

Keep him

Risk: Aside from missing out on a potential nice asset in return through a trade, the Flames also risk Ramo leveling off. While I love what he’s been able to do since December, I don’t think Ramo is ever going to be a top end NHL starter. At best I think he’s a good stopgap as Calgary looks to find their long term number one.

To just expect Ramo to come in next year and give the team 0.920 save percentage stuff for an entire season is definitely risky. Ramo has done that over the span of a few months, and he deserves credit for it. But he’s never done it over a full season when he’s being counted on as the guy. Could he still show the capability to do that? Yeah, there’s a chance he could. But at the age of 30 starting next season, the odds aren’t necessarily for it.

Reward: Keeping Ramo around after the deadline and not re-signing him carries no real reward, other than spearheading an unlikely ridiculous run to the playoffs. But signing him to a new deal carries with it some positives. Any deal would have to be of the short term, one or two year range, though.

A new deal for Ramo would give the team a little continuity next season and eliminate some of the pressure of having to find someone in the summer. The Flames are still going to have to add a goaltender externally during the offseason, but having Ramo in the fold would make that job a little less nerve wracking.

Whether Ramo is back next year or not, Calgary still has to make any offseason move in net with an eye to upgrading the number one role. But bringing in a slightly more unproven player, at least as a number one, becomes a little more palatable with Ramo under contract. It would breed a real competition that might eventually lead to the team having their guy going forward. That is the end goal after all.

Verdict

This is the toughest one for me of all the pending UFA’s. Because there are real reasons to keep Ramo around and to attempt to re-sign him, I wouldn’t be totally against that outcome. That said, I still think trading Ramo if the value is there is Calgary’s best option.

I’m not saying trade Ramo for something well under the team’s asking price, because I think that’s silly. But getting a decent pick, or pair of picks, for a guy who was exiled to the American League in October is pretty decent asset management. Let’s see if the market is there in a few weeks.

Next up: David Jones

  • clib542

    Trade him… Ramo got 3.8 million after 34 games last year, this year his numbers are the same. He is going to get 60+ starts if he finishes the year here. With the other options available, getting an asset back is the best option.

    I’m willing to bet that if Ramo stays with Calgary he will get a bigger AAV than Reimer does on the open market.

    • Derbyherb

      Only if we can do better in free agency. There’s a good possibility we’re left without a goalie when the UFA musical chairs for like 3 decent tenders happens on July 1st. I don’t wanna start 2016-2017 with Poulin #1 on the depth chart.

    • hulkingloooooob

      True, you would think this if you have no brain….er…..what are we going to do next year without a goalie. Ramo is the only decent option we have in the system right now for next year. Without him we’re not only tanking this year but next. We already have a model for sustained tanking up north and i for one certainly don’t want to follow that lead….unless you get an equally good goalie in return i say: re sign Ramo….!

      No offence meant Kent but you’re simply wrong on this one.

      • Ramo is an established mediocre goalie in this league, as Pat points out. You can get these guys anywhere every year relatively easily. He’s utterly replaceable. Which is why trading him if there’s any sort of demand is the way to go.

        Taking actions of out fear for the worst, rather than being prudent and realistic, isn’t capable leadership or asset management.

        • BlueMoonNigel

          Interesting that you can get one of these guys anywhere and yet, per Friedman in last week’s 30 thoughts, Calgary controls the goalie market.

          Now I had a different issue with Friedman’s thoughts on Calgary but this suggests a disconnect between what others think of Ramo/Hiller and what you/we think of Ramo/Hiller.

          http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/30-thoughts-all-eyes-on-dennis-wideman-hearing/ see item 18.

          All in all, if someone makes the Flames an offer on Ramo, I think it would be foolhardy to refuse because the team doesn’t have anyone inked for next year. Ortio/Poulin aren’t ready but there will be an established 1b guy floating around out there somewhere and I seriously doubt that guy will cost what Ramo or Hiller do. As someone else pointed out, paying 3 or 4 million of two goalies instead of just one dramatically helps the cap and lets the team focus on other needs, which we all know involve more top six talent.

          By the time the three albatross contracts come off the back end, the Flames should be in a much better position to contend. At least they’ll have the cap to try.

        • hulkingloooooob

          Kent, Really? First of all, players can improve, even at his age, and especially goalies. So you sit there looking at his career stats and say, “mediocre” well I for one watch every game and have seen a drastic improvement in his game. Calmer vibe in the net, better positioning, same great battle. So please share with me a scenario where we replace him with someone at least as good (as his recent play, not his career stats please!). I’m open to the possibility but not open to the possibility of being stuck with Hiller and Orts next year.

          I’m not sure what you mean by “Taking actions out of fear for the worst” but using prudence and realism I see some good goaltending from Ramo and someone we already have a relationship with and have invested in. That’s a know asset, letting him go and hoping to sign one of these “easy to find replacements” you speak of is a big unknown. A big maybe.

          I get the sell high idea, and that sometimes you have to let people go, but it’s really hard to win games without an decent goalie (yes, I’m calling Ramo decent!). depends on what he’d be willing to sign for but I think he’s worth another year at the very least. And I don’t actually see any other team wanting to sign him on a big long contract. If you do, I’d love to know who you think that would be.

          • flames2015

            Props to you, Big Swede. Ramo deserves more credit than he’s been given lately. How old was Kipper when he cam over? 27? Anyway, we need more talk like this pumping Ramo’s value up so that we better the exchange we got for Reto Berra. Two seconds, minimum! Definitely need to max this asset, and his value has never been higher.

            Also have to disagree with Steinberg on his assessment of Hiller. In his last handful of starts he’s performed very well. Don’t think he’s without value, even as an upgrade to somebody’s back up.
            He even seems to be less pouty than what others have suggested. Still capable guy, IMHO, in a tough spot as the man out-of-favour. Hope we can deal him to somewhere (for whatever) where he gets a shot and can make a go of it this season, maybe getting a short deal somewhere in the summer as a UFA . if not, there’s always Europe. Him, I won’t miss but Ramo is not as easily replaced as Kent suggests.

            Sure, I’d trade ’em both for picks & prospects, but that’s me. I’d take a 2nd stringer back in a trade and pair him with one of the two in the ‘A’ for the rest of the year. This year’s not going to end with anything more than optimism for the draft. Let’s get as many picks,as high as we can and continue the rebuild.

        • flames2015

          Ramo is a proven mediocre goalie, but he’s the only NHLer in your system going in to next season. If you let him walk, best case scenario you are going with UFA/Poulin which is terrifying. UFA/Ramo while it’s not great, is at least an NHL tandem and in my opinion worth more than the likely mid-to-late round pick Ramo will net you.

      • First Name Unidentified

        Trading Ramo right now is the best move, monetize this asset as soon as there are takers out there. I am not so sure anybody is interested in him. His goaltending can be replaced without skipping half a beat, heck, Hiller can replace his level of tending. They are both really bad!

        So your claim that we’ll be at the bottom of the league without Ramo doesn’t make sense.

        • hulkingloooooob

          Anyone who’s watched Ramo the past two months knows he’s played great and is not as you say “really bad”. If you can line up a better goalie fine, but if we launch into next year with Ortio (who we’d need to sign) and Poulin or Hiller we’ll likely be last next year too. How much of an Oiler style rebuild do we want? Not me. No thanks. We need good goaltending without risk or long contracts. If we can get Ramo for 1 or 2 years at anything reasonable it’s a way safer bet then hoping we can trade for one at the draft. I’m not willing to take my chances.

          That said, if we lose him for nothing then obviously a trade for picks is the better option. If only we had a crystal ball.

      • First Name Unidentified

        If Ramo could be re-signed before the TDL for substantially less than he is making right now, then sure. Unfortunately, I can’t see Ramo signing for less than what he earns right now, and he’ll want a bit more certainty than a one year contract. Ship him out and watch Poulin/Hiller destroy the NHL!

      • Kevin R

        You forgot one thing, if Flames are as desperate as you say, Ramo won’t sign a deal shorter than 3 years at the TDL. You don’t sign him in the next 2 & half weeks, he walks July 1 & we’re back to square one. If you can get a 2nd & 3rd like we did with Glencross, you do it. No brainer on this one. Chances are we can probably resign him on our terms come July whether we trade him or not.

  • clib542

    Why not pull an arizona/vermette??? Trade him for the second round pick(or higher), get a better draft pick because ramo is gone and our record will reflect that, draft some talent with said pick, and in the summer….sign him for sub~ 4mill. Thats maximizing ur assests and all risks are eliminated and all rewards are rewarded. Im not saying do this with every u.f.a. on this team…but something tells me this would work with russel too….isnt is cow name c of red?

    • TurkeyLips

      That would best case scenario #1- except for re-signing Russel.See the headline now:”Everybody Loves Ramo- Again”. Think he could provide a continued stop-gap and possibly competition for a newly signed, potential No. 1. Or share duties with one of our own (Ortio, Gillies, who knows?) as they develop. Would love to see it happen.

  • FlamesRule

    Re-sign Ramo. The goalie to be traded should be Hiller. Showcasing him in last game in Vancouver was a smart move.

    Ramo and Ortio/Poulin at $5M for the position next year frees up $3M for the forward ranks.

  • supra steve

    Trade Ramo if there is interest.

    Hell, Trade Hiller if a team wants to give a return for his worth – but that I doubt, Calgary has added to the undeserved “bad goalie” concept.

    Hiller is .947sv% (raw) in his last 5 starts. 122/129

    He was a .927EVsv% goalie last year. .927evsv% career.

    He’s played 15 games! The first 10 were almost all in October when the whole team was a mess. Plus the two Flu games.

    So people are putting a lot of weight in his capability as an everyday starter on what 5 or 6 bad games? From a guy who’s played nearly 400 pro games at one of the highest levels of any starter in the league.

    Makes you wonder.

    • FlamesRule

      Hmmm… and he might come cheap.

      Trade Ramo and resign Hiller on a bargain one year prove it contract?

      One problem with that is Hiller may be a bit fed up by now regarding playing time.

      Although not a bad idea .. especially in terms of Asset Management.

      Might leave us with enough cap space for Okposo… hmmmm….

    • flames2015

      See, Pat?
      trade him for ANYTHING!
      Keep Ramo if you have to (ie NO takers). Otherwise, i prefer to nod off tonight dreaming of Daniel Knapp’s idea. “Trade him for the second round pick(or higher), get a better draft pick because ramo is gone and our record will reflect that, draft some talent with said pick, and in the summer….sign him for sub~ 4mill.”

      (Sigh) Good night.

  • FlamesRule

    Risk is that if you don’t trade him or sign him to a nice extension before the TDL he may choose free agency. Then we have an incompetent Hiller who will be UFA….I guess the worse that can happen is that Hiller doesn’t get offers in free agency and we can sign him for $950,000 for one year.

    Arrgh! No we can’t re-sign Hiller under any circumstances! And we need a goalie so sign Ramo please.

  • FlamesRule

    It’s a tough call, but I’m confident BT has a prudent game plan that will dictate their decision. Rams has been a bright spot the past 2 months but he is not the future goalie for the Flames, I would hope a second round pick from a team needing stability in net would be an offer BT can’t refuse, or a package deal to get value picks. I think you could ride Hiller the rest of the way and call up Ortio and/ Poulin for auditions. The team isn’t going to get back into the playoff mix as their inconsistent play all year (especially away from the Dome) would have to change dramatically, which I don’t see happening. Unfortunately it is a “For Sale!” year that will only make this team better in the end, everyone knows it, so do it and stop avoiding the rebuild process like the previous chubby GM did.

    Just my 2 barrels of oil!

      • T&A4Flames

        WAS is all in this year. We could offer them a couple of pieces in Ramo and Russell. What could we expect in return? Bowey and a 1st? I don’t think they have any young RW players or prospects that would really be of any interest. Another solid D prospect isn’t what we really need but Bowey would be a great get.

        • Nick24

          The only issue with that is Washinton only has about $6million in cap space and that’s with Brooks Orpik and Jay Beagle on the IR (Orpik is making $5.5million). From the sounds of it, Washington is expecting him back before the TDL. Regardless, there’s no way they give up Bowey and a first for what equates to spare parts.

          It would be interesting if they could get Marcus Johansson out of Washington. Maybe some kind of Hudler or Russel for Johansson deal could work. They’re all UFA’s at the end of the season.

  • Derzie

    With playoff hopes dead I’m for moving everyone who is not part of the plan to be a cup contender. Ramo included. We are 2 points out of last place. We don’t have far to fall and we won’t miss him as long as we get a placeholder goalie. The only players who I would not trade are Gio, Brodie, Johnny, Mony, Sam, Ferland, Frolik, Grant, Gillies, Oliver, Ras, Mangia, Kulak.

    • KiLLKiND

      We have Gilles, don’t worry about Brossoit. Was it worth trading a potential starting goalie for a guy the Flames would benefit from not having on their books? Is that really a question. They also got Horak although I doubt he comes back to NA anymore.

  • KiLLKiND

    Yeah if we get a good offer I’m down for trading Ramo. Also personally I would prefer Calgary to have Ortio, Poulin, Gilles and somebody on a PTO battle it out next year. This may fail horribly but we have one more season of horrible contracts. Raymond, Smid, Engelland, Wideman, Bollig and I’m sure I’m missing one but the point is clear. With all these horrible contracts I don’t think Calgary can be a very competitive team next year.

    Giving the reins to 2 young goalies could really kick start their development. We won’t have as much pressure to win now. At worst we could potentially get one last high end draft pick before this team actually starts being competitive. If they don’t work out fine then we can find a goalie or try out Gilles the year after. We have plenty of goalies in our system and shouldn’t have to worry about acquiring any new ones for quite some time.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Hate to say it, but if Ramo and Hiller are traded or walk, I don’t foresee any of the farmers ready to step in as the first starter. When caught between a rock and a hard place, the Flames inevitably turn to the Leafs to try and solve their woes, so acquiring one of Toronto’s net minders is not out of the realm. As the Leafs have never solved Calgary’s problems, I can’t see it working this time, but I can see it happening.

      As for those who say Darling Scott is the answer for Calgary, let me remind you that the Hawks have won 3 cups with mediocre goaltending. I’ll bet if Ramo had been the goalie in any of the 3 finals, he would have won the cup.

      Calgary ought to find the best goalie not in the NHL and see what it would take to bring him on board.

      If Ramo or Hiller is back next year as the starter you know that In big, bad Brad Treliving We Trust has failed to upgrade the position.