Karri Ramo, torn ACL, done for the season

This news isn’t particularly shocking, but it is devastating. Karri Ramo, who went from sacrificial AHL lamb to the Flames’ starter, is officially done for the year with a torn ACL and meniscus damage, suffered in the final minutes of a 6-5 shootout win over San Jose

Ramo will require surgery, and is expected to be out for 6-8 months. He’s an upcoming UFA, so that’s it for him this season, both as a Flame and as potential trade bait. He could recover in time for the start of the 2016-17 season, but who knows where he’ll be playing then?

It’s been an extremely up-and-down year for Ramo, but this is the lowest of lows. Re-signed right before free agency officially opened, the hope was that two of Ramo, Jonas Hiller, and Joni Ortio would establish themselves, creating healthy competition for the Flames goaltending position. This, however, ended up not being the case, as all three goalies played rather evenly – and so, the Flames started the season with three goalies on the roster.

It went extremely poorly, and something had to be done. Ortio wasn’t getting the time of day while Ramo and Hiller apparently became sieves over the off-season. Giving up four goals on 18 shots to the Washington Capitals seemed to be the final straw when it came to Ramo, as he was demoted to correct the problem following that performance.

Except Hiller got hurt not even a week later, so Ramo was back: and with his only competition being an inexperienced Ortio, he eventually took the reins and ran with them, starting 33 games for the Flames throughout the year. He played in 37 total, and looked to be on pace to break his previous record of 40, set in his return to the NHL in 2013-14 – that is, until this injury has completely knocked him out of commission.

What comes next?

So for the time being, that’s that. It’s entirely possible the Flames decided to extend him when determining what to do with their goaltending situation in the off-season. They have no goalies actually signed. Hiller is 34 years old and appears to have taken a turn for the worse. Ortio hasn’t impressed, and also doesn’t seem to be getting much of a chance at the NHL level to begin with. Jon Gillies only has seven games of professional experience under his belt, so he isn’t an answer, either; Kevin Poulin is doing okay in the AHL, but relying on him at the NHL level probably isn’t a smart move.

The organization knows Ramo, and, evidently, trusts him. He won the starter’s position back in November and never really let go. Ramo came at a $3.8 million cap hit this season, and one would have to hope that could be knocked down a bit: while he salvaged his season save percentage up to .909 this season, you can’t really ignore extended periods of disastrous starts; they’re just as much of who Ramo is as are the shutout streaks he occasionally goes on.

And it’s not like there are a ton of UFA goalies that will be available. The best of the bunch is probably James Reimer, but most of the offerings are more backup-type guys. Why take a risk on someone new when you already know someone who can maybe do the job?

On the other hand, there are still a couple of months left to the season, and things can chance in an instant. Hiller could suddenly become his old self, Ortio could take the reins as Ramo did and run with it. Upcoming free agent goalies could be extended, leaving the Flames with no options. Or they could still trade for someone else.

Ramo’s days this season, however, are over.

  • Cfan in Vic

    This sucks, for him as well as the team.

    At least it happened a few weeks before the deadline. If he had played the last week and helped the team to a few more wins, just to get injured right after the deadline… Glass half full, I guess?

    Edit: Flames site has Jooris AND Nakladal in for tonights game. That’s a plus.

  • SickFloBro

    Rough break for Ramo. Particularly bad time for this to happen to him, career-wise. Contract year on a fairly bad team. In terms of employment, he has no safety net.

    Even if he recovers in 6 months (around August), teams will have loads of questions about his ability to play post-injury. No one is going to be waiting for Ramo to heal up so they can sign him. It could be hard for him to find NHL work.

    I respect Ramo for what he’s been through this year and how he’s battled. We all know how fast things move in this league… you hope for his sake that this doesn’t spell the end of his NHL career. Best of luck to him – speedy recovery and all.

  • Hubcap1

    Well, the Flames have to be in full goalie rebuild mode now. Ramos was/is? an ok option for next season, Hiller is not, the trade market is something for the off season as is the free agent market (obviously).

    Ortio or Poulin or whoever (Raanta NYR, Johnson BUF) can be an ok backup but we need to find a solid starter sooner than later.

    Evaluation of what we have and need must be the priority. I don’t expect any big moves with goalies between now and the trade deadline but the offseason will present many opportunities.

  • everton fc

    Waive Ortio and send him back to Stockton. Recall Poulin and give him the reigns for the balance of the campaign. He’s only 25, playing well, with NHL experience. I disagree that he’s not a possible solution going forward this season – we are basically out of playoff contention all but mathematically, and he’s had a lot of games, so he’s fresh. Perhaps a deal w/Toronto to take Bernier w/salary dump is possible, as well?? Bernier’s still only 28 when the next season starts…

    Just thinking out loud here….

    As for Ramo next season, if nobody wants to take the risk, sign him on the cheap, as long as he can recover and play. We know what we have, in Ramo.

    • cberg

      I sort of like the thinking, but I would waive Hiller and bring up Poulin. Hiller is (should be) a non-starter for next year, even if he catches fire a bit over the rest of the season. By bringing up Poulin and having Ortio, we can split the time between the two to end the season and see if either show enough to go forward with one of them next Fall.

      We always have Ramo as a fall-back for the Fall, and with the extended injury time I figure he’ll be available and probably for less $s, which would be a help.

      If neither of Poulin/Ortio show much, then its full-on goalie searching this summer…

      Running with Hiller now (which BH& seem to be indicating they are doing) guarantees we end up with nothing learned come summer to help us in the Fall. Perhaps its just a few games to either see if Hiller makes a miraculous turn-about, but more likely a few games till its absolutely clear we are out of the play-offs picture. To me, that ship has already sailed so its time for youth evaluation, NOW.

      • piscera.infada

        Running with Hiller now (which BH& seem to be indicating they are doing)

        That’s interesting, because during Treliving’s press conference today, he indicated that the goal with Ramo was “to give Joni [Ortio] opportunity”. Hopefully Bob agrees, and Ortio does something with it.

    • piscera.infada

      I don’t mind resigning Ramo, and I agree about Poulin to an extent–I wouldn’t say he gives me a ton of confidence as a potential NHL starter, but I do think he could be an effective back-up.

      I don’t understand trying to acquire Bernier in addition to a salary dump though (perhaps that’s not what you meant). I’ve never been sold on Bernier at all and he’s too pricey for my liking, to say nothing of having to give up assets for him.

      Personally, I think you see what shakes loose in free agency, or if there’s a goalie out there whom is fairly low-risk, low-cost in trade. If not, you resign Ramo and hope Poulin can give you some back-up or better goaltending. I think with the unfortunate injury to Ramo, you might be able to re-sign him for cheaper than he was signed this year. However, there’s significant risk there if he doesn’t recover.

      The goaltending issue is going to be a tricky one to manoeuvre for Treliving. I still don’t think the Flames can afford to go big whale hunting acquiring big term and dollars, and give up big assets. Not yet anyway.

      • everton fc

        Meant the Leafs retain salary. Or take Hiller. Forgot that component. We are rebuilding. Poulin’s 25, Ortio one year younger almost to the day. Let them both have a run. I like that. Hiller to the AHL. I don’t mind that. But I think they stay w/Hiller and Ortio. I wish it were Hiller and Poulin. I think Poulin is the better keeper in the Poulin/Ortio debate. Both short and long term.

        If you run “as is”, and wait for free agency, I can live with this, as well. Bernier, for some reason, intrigues me, but only if Hiller goes the other way.

        • piscera.infada

          There’s definitely no sense to me in acquiring Bernier this season, which means Hiller for Bernier is moot.

          Now, Poulin is actually an interesting case. When he was acquired, I wrote him off as simply an AHL emergency acquisition. The more I look into him though, the more he looks like an intriguing acquisition.

          Now again, I don’t see future NHL number-one goalie out of him, but his numbers are actually better in his AHL career than I thought they were (for some reason). He has a few bad years, but the Tigers were pretty bad those years. Outside of that, he has one really strong string of NHL starts (2010-11) and one really poor string of NHL starts (2013-14). His AHL numbers have started to climb over the past two seasons, and he’s now playing over a .920 with the Heat.

          As Greg said above, it’s a weird spot the Flames find themselves in. They’ll need to figure out the goaltending, but they can’t afford to hamstring themselves with that goaltending. It’ll be an interesting offseason.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Yes to giving Poulin some starts in Calgary before April.

      No to Bernier–but I do think either Bernier or Reimer will be starting here next October.

      Yes to Ramo being brought back on a cheap contract as a backup.

  • FlamesRule

    Ramo should be back next year, all things going right for his recovery. Resign him for 2 years for $2M plus performance bonuses.

    Bye bye Hiller and hello Ortio as the backup. Gillies gets a year in the AHL to perfect his pro game.

    No more waiver issues and put this goalie shitefest to rest. It will be like this season never happened. Total do-over!

  • Greg

    Goaltending is such a funny issue… The theory is you don’t need great goaltending and that there’s lots of adequate options to be had for cheap. Until you’re goaltending sucks and then you realize how dismal the options actually are.

    Come back next year with Ramo and a questionable backup? Trade for Bernier? Try to sign Reimer without giving up way too much term and $ for what he’s worth? Ugh…

    Hard to see the flames making a serious step forward next season with shoring up their goaltending, and hard to see them being able to do that with the options available.

      • Kevin R

        Well, knee surgery & 6-8 months could take you into well into October & he will have no training camp & be awful rusty. Cam Ward sounds pretty damn good to me right now on a Hiller type 2 year deal. See if any of the kids step up at training & if not, signing Ramo into next season in Oct/Nov could be an option. Cant see teams lining up to sign Ramo July 1.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      How many times does Cam Ward make saves that warrant the playing of the “Unbelievable” song? Not enough to bring him in as a starter. The Flames need a goalie over the next couple of seasons at least who can steal wins and lots of them. Their defence under Hartley is not set up to smother their opponents. The Flames give up heaps of scoring chances and there is no reason to think that is going to change soon unless a new coach with a new system takes over. The bottom line is that for the Flames to be competitive as they are now and likely for the next year or so, they need a goalie who can steal several wins a season. Ward isn’t that man.

  • beloch

    I’m willing to bet Ramo will get another contract with the Flames, but likely a relatively short and cheap one. Treliving should be on the hunt for a better goalie, but actually landing one is far from a sure thing. Keeping Ramo gives the Flames both a backup plan and a backup goalie.

    Hiller has been awful this season. I wouldn’t be surprised if he improves a little down the stretch once he’s had a few starts, but will it be enough for him to steal the backup job from Ramo? It seems unlikely. One thing is certain though, he’s not going to be making $4.5M next season.

    Ortio is probably going to get at least a few starts down the stretch. At this point, the odds of him impressing anyone seem to be remote. Goalies often figure the game out late, especially Finns it would seem! It’s not yet time to cut bait on Ortio. He’s an RFA, so he’ll be cheap to re-sign. Ortio could play backup to Gillies next season if Mason McDonald stays in junior. On the other hand, if McDonald decides to turn pro, what do you do with Ortio? If the Flames can retain his rights but encourage him to play in the KHL, that’d be a win. Ortio would get another couple of years to develop in a strong league without causing a logjam in Stockton.

  • The Fall

    Hiller can still be traded.

    The best thing Hiller has done all season was come in cold and steal a game from a Sharks team that is very good on the PP, not to mention a 5v3, over time and a shootout. THAT is exactly what every contender wants right now, a calm veteran back up to help them go the distance. Hiller can excel in that roll, hey, he maybe even goes the distance with the Pens or something… he deserves it.

    He is not a starter any more.

    He is worth a third round pick at best, and I see they take what they can get. BT has been good and getting great value late in the draft.

    Bring Poulin up and let him and Ortio fight it out for the starts the rest of the way.

    Go hire some plugs for The Heat.

    And for god sakes: fix this crap before Brodie’s contract is up.

  • RKD

    Ramo injury + poor goaltending by Hiller and Ortio + poor defense = no playoffs and potential tank and Auston Matthews. If Ramo wasn’t injured we could have got assets back now Ramo can walk and we get nothing.

  • MattyFranchise

    Resign Ramo as the back up, make a play for Reimer or Raanta, let Gillies have a full season in the AHL, Poulin is injury call up while he or Gillies anchors the Heat in the minors. If those guys fail, run a tandem. Ramo is good, not great, he needs to split games.

    I’m not gonna pay him 3.8 to be a back up and at this point he’s better than Hiller. So if he resigns on the cheap it’s not a bad idea, the organization knows what they have with him.

    For the rest of the season? Let Ortio ride, for better or for worse, at least we’ll know what we have in him.

    He does well with a bunch of starts? Maybe a Ramo/Ortio tandem performs fairly well next season while Gillies figures his game out?

    Unfortunately for Hiller, at his age and with his performance, I don’t see him being much more than a backup on a team that has a Lundquist or a Schneider (meaning he gets like 10-15 games all season), if his NHL career doesn’t just implode altogether

  • FlamesFan1489

    If you’re of the mindset that the season was lost, this injury only helps that. Sucks for Ramo because he was playing well (although still somewhat inconsistent at times). He could have easily gotten himself a contract for next year somewhere, especially as a backup. He’ll be in tough to be ready for October, but I hope we’ll see him back here on a cheap contract with how weak the goaltending market is this upcoming summer.