Joni Ortio could become a UFA unless he plays a ton

Everyone’s rather concerned about the upcoming National Hockey League trade deadline around these parts, but the folks at Cap Friendly tweeted out something that raised a few eyebrows yesterday.

According to their data, Joni Ortio could become a Group 6 free agent at the end of this season. This revelation made us curious, so we did some digging in our favourite place: the CBA. All the details after the jump.

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Ortio turns 25 years old on April 16, so he’ll be 25 when his contract expires. He’s in his fourth pro season under a standard player contract (SPC). He meets the age requirements.

After last night’s game, Ortio has played in 22 NHL games. However, he’s only played 30+ minutes in 18 games in the NHL (eight games in 2013-14, five games in 2014-15 and five games this season). In the other four games, he was used in relief twice or started and pulled twice and didn’t play 30 minutes. This means that Ortio has to probably go the distance in 10 of the remaining 22 games this season, or else he becomes a Group 6 free agent on July 1.

If he does meet the 28 games requirement, he’d be a Group 2 (restricted) free agent.

We caught up with Ortio following Calgary’s 2-1 overtime loss to the New York Islanders. When asked about whether there had been any discussions about how many games he’d get to play while up with the team or his contractual status (Group 6 vs. Group 2), he downplayed the whole thing.

“I know nothing about that,” said Ortio. “I didn’t even know about the Group 6 thing. That’s someone else’s problem. I’m just trying to stop the puck.”

  • Avalain

    He’s right about this not being his problem. He has no control over if he plays or not except as a direct result of how well he stops the puck. I mean, he could technically play awful and not manage to get 28 games in, but to do that on purpose in order to reach UFA status would be crazy. I’m sure he’d very much rather be the starter next year as an RFA than be fighting for a backup position as a UFA.

  • beloch

    This is almost funny. Ortio passed straight through waivers earlier this season and everybody crossed him off the Flames goalie depth chart. Now that he has two quality starts in a row, suddenly he’s “the future” and we’re supposed to panic about him possibly becoming a UFA?

    Ortio has been an occasionally stellar but, on average, poor netminder, even in the AHL. If he gets a lot of starts, sooner or later he’s going to deliver some very smelly performances. Probably sooner rather than later.

    This is perfectly fine. A lot of goalies take a long time to figure the NHL game out. The mighty Kipper had just 5 NHL starts (with an average sv% of 0.902) in his 24-year-old season. As I said before the last two games, it’s too early to cut bait on Ortio.

    So what’s my prediction for the rest of the season? Ortio will get a lot of starts because Hiller sucks that much more than Ortio does right now. There are going to be some ugly, demoralizing losses because of this. That’s okay. It’s not as if the Flames are seriously chasing the playoffs right now. This is a great time for Ortio to get some NHL experience, even if some of it will be ugly. At the end of the season, even if he qualifies as a group 6 UFA, he’s not going to be a goalie other teams are going to sign for $3M/season. He simply hasn’t been good enough to cash in… yet. Regardless of his status, he’s going to get another cheap bridge contract because smarter people than me know a goalie like Ortio may require another couple years to become truly NHL caliber. Throwing your goalies out at age 24 is not a reliable recipe for developing starters!

    The way group 6 status works is actually in the Flames’ favor. Ortio only becomes a UFA if he stinks so bad that Hiller steals the starter’s job, or he gets injured. In either case Ortio is unlikely to get a fat offer from another team. The best scenario for *both* the Flames and Ortio is that he puts together a long string of quality starts. In this case, his worth goes up but he becomes a RFA. The odds of him getting a higher salary as a UFA are vanishingly small, but his job security goes up quite a bit if he performs well enough to become a RFA.

  • Hubcap1

    This is pretty clear to me, play Ortio a bunch the rest of the way and you get your final assessment on him with the added benefit that he stays an RFA (keeping him easier to sign). If at seasons end he doesn’t fit for the organization you can just non-tender him and he can walk as a UFA.

  • ApolloRising

    After seeing him rebound, I get the impression that his down season had a lot to do with not being played at the start of the year. That was a lot of time doing nothing except killing his confidence. I hope he continues to put up great numbers now that he’s getting games.

    • Jake the Snail

      Agreed. Let us hope that Ortio plays all of the remaining games and Hiller gets traded at TDL…(regardless of what the heck was in the article that I did not read) And Ortio plays well enough to be re-signed before July 1. We have diddly coming up as far as goalies are concerned and Ramo’s career has been stalled or even killed by major injury.

      Hiller showed us that he is Over the Hill as he cannot put two games together and his puck stopping ability consists of flopping on the ice as the puck is being teed up, hoping that the puck does not go top shelf.

      • Stud Puffin

        HMM, Poulin is doing well, Agostino is putting up good numbers. Wotherspoon and Nakladal’s performance with the flames shows he did a decent job with them. Blanket statements like that just show your lack of understanding. Do I think he is better than Ward? No. Has he destroyed every player? No. Truth is in the middle.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Before we declare the Flames have found their #1 goalie in Ortio for next season, consider that when Ortio played that great stretch last season, the team was still regarded as a bottom feeder an also ran. They were supposed to duke it out with the Oilers for the basement. In other words, when Ortio started there was zero pressure on the team to win as the Dregers and MacKenzies and Buttons assured us the Flames were a tire fire that would soon sink. Last 2 starts, again zero pressure on the team to win. Earlier this season when Ortio played briefly there was pressure on the team to win considering its garbage start.

    Makes me wonder if Ortio can win when the money is on the line or he is a pajama goalie?

    Be very careful if Ortio sticks around with the club for the balance of the year and plays really well. The hope that he could be a cost-effective #1 in 2016-17 might be a false one if he does in fact shun the limelight and play his best hockey when his team has stopped giving a damn.

    • Hubcap1

      I might have missed something, but who said Ortio should be a #1 next season or maybe ever. I personally am just wanting to see if he could be useful to keep around next season or let go.

      • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

        I think Calgary will need to make a splash for a true number 1 goalie. Ortio can’t be relied upon to be your starter for next season. Maybe backup but it would be a mistake otherwise.

        • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

          With a strong D in front of the crease already, Calgary needs to solidify its crease with a true number one.
          I’m sure the team does not want to go into next season with Ortio as your number1. If Ortio is number1 the who would be backup? Teams should build from the crease out and in my opinion Ortio just doesn’t do it if I’m a Flames fan.
          What I’m talking about is a guy “like” Bishop as opposed to Ortio.thats the type of splash they need.

          • The GREAT Walter White

            Talking to yourself now?!

            I read that “the generational one” has played 7 games that the Oilers won…..that can’t be right!

            Out of 26 games he has played, he has won them only 7???

            Surrounded by 3 other firs overall picks and a third overall (not to mention Poul) only 7 wins? Against all those non-playoff teams?!

            Do you think “Suck&Luck 2016” will finally pull a Lindros?


          • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

            I’m talking about goalies here try to stay on topic. As for pulling a Lindros , I am hoping you pull a Lindros and leave this site or any other site for that matter.

  • WildfireOne

    Maybe I just don’t want to let my fond memories of Kipper go, but the fact that Ortio is also from Turku and was drafted upon #34’s recommendation makes me want Ortio to succeed here…

  • freethe flames

    There was an interesting article on Flames from 80 feet discussing the potential available goalies the Flames could pursue. I found it very enlightening. The Flames should IMHO give Ortio the bulk of the starts to see what he can do and this would make this story mute. Like the rest of Flames nation I am waiting for something out of the Wideman story and of course to see if BT can turn some magic beans into gold.

    • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

      If you want to see what you have with Ortio right now is the time to do it. Let’s him get 40% of the starts down the stretch. That should give you a good indication.

      • freethe flames

        I would give 80% of the starts unless we bring up Poulan from the Heat. A goalie needs to be given a stretch of games to see what they can do and I think that is what has hurt Ortio this year(one of a number of factors).

        When the farm team was moved to Stockton most of us applauded the move as it would allow for more rest and practice time and for the most part I agree with this; however their choppy season(not very often have they played a bunch of games together and playing the same opponents over and over may not be the best thing) may have hurt the goalies. Positional players may get better in understanding the systems and develop skills but I think goalies are a different breed; I think they need to play.

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    Train 97 I feel as though you have become a productive member of flames nation and I welcome most of your comments considering you show more hockey insight than ww. Either you have grown to love the flames or someone stole your account lol