FlamesNation Player Evaluations: Karri Ramo

Few players in the entire National Hockey League saw the highs and lows that Calgary Flames goaltender Karri Ramo did during the 2015-16 season.

He started the opening game of the season… and got lit up by Vancouver. He was inconsistent enough in October to get waived and banished to the American Hockey League. He played a period in the minors only to return when Jonas Hiller was injured. Ramo played well enough to get Calgary back into the playoff picture, only to see his season ended when a goal-mouth collision exploded his knee (and probably derailed his chances for another contract with the Flames).

SEASON SUMMARY

The opening few games were the blurst of times for Ramo. He went 0-3-0 and either got lit up terribly (in two starts) or gave up butter-soft goals at unfortunate times, notably a late-game softie to Dustin Byfuglien against Winnipeg in the Flames’ best 60-minute game to that point.

He was waived and demoted to Stockton on Oct. 22. Jonas Hiller suffered a lower-body injury in a collision on Oct. 28 and was recalled from the farm after playing 20 minutes in the minors. He served as backup to Joni Ortio in Calgary’s worst game of the season, a 6-2 home loss to Montreal. Basically throwing his hands in the air in bewilderment, Bob Hartley turned to Ramo.

From henceforth, Ramo was the team’s workhorse. He started 34 of the next 43 games before he was injured. He went 17-15-1 with a .923 even-strength save percentage. He was easily Calgary’s best goalie but for context there were 18 goalies who played 30+ games in that span, and his even-strength save percentage was 14th out of that group. (Worse goalies than Ramo in this respect: Marc-Andre Fleury, Mike Condon, Martin Jones and Pekka Rinne.)

IMPACT ON TEAM

When a team has good goaltending, it can cover up for a lot. When they have great goaltending, it can cover up for everything. The Flames had rough defensive zone coverage in 2015-16. They had bad, bad goaltending in October, from everybody. It sucked to watch, to cover, and everybody was glad when it was over.

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Ramo was pretty consistent throughout the season in terms of his low and medium-danger save percentage. His dramatic improvement in high-danger chances after October allowed team to get a bit more aggressive offensively, and that in turn likely contributed to them getting all of the goals in December and much of January.

They weren’t able to overcome their own rough, rough defensive play, but Ramo’s netminding at least gave them a chance (post-October).

WHAT COMES NEXT?

To be honest? I’m not sure.

During his tenure in Calgary, Ramo has suffered ligament injuries on both of his knees and battled a hip malady. He is an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and was the best goalie for the NHL team that had the league’s worst goaltending. He was good (for Calgary), but compared to the rest of the league’s netminders he wasn’t great.

Would you actively pursue a 30-year-old goalie with slightly below-average underlying numbers and a history of injuries? That said, he’s the goaltender the Flames seem to know (and trust) the most, and considering his injury history it’s likely that he could be a dirt-cheap backup goaltender… if his play doesn’t wildly deteriorate following knee surgery.

    • piscera.infada

      I tend to agree with that, but at the same time, I think it’s a lot more difficult to make that the move when you didn’t get a real chance to see Gilles this season. If you had a better idea of where he was at with the pro game, you’d probably have a much better read of what to do with the goaltending. While I’m not overly concerned about his ability to bounce back from injury, the lost season really hurts the organization from a planning stand point.

  • CofRed4Life

    I feel for the guy. He seriously got injured at the wrong time (though I suppose there’s never really a good time to get injured). If his recovery is ahead of schedule, I’d take a look at him if there wasn’t already another option in place. And I agree with FireScorpion that another one year deal (hopefully cheaper than this past year) would be the best.

  • beloch

    I like Ramo as a backup or a #1B guy in a two-starter system. Ortio is likely going to be the Flames backup next season, so signing Ramo would mean the club would still need another starter. For this reason, I don’t think he’ll get another contract with the Flames. He’s definitely worth signing as a backup for a club with a clear #1 guy though. I think he’ll get another NHL contract, just not with the Flames.

  • jakethesnail

    If the Flames can make a deal for M A Fleury from Pitt then Ramo is toast this season for the Flames.

    I don’t know if a Reimer would be an improvement over Ramo but he did play in front of a flamemingly bad D in Toronto too.

        • piscera.infada

          I’m not sure Reimer will cost the amount of cap space that would truly make him unpalatable. I do however, think he’ll be requesting too much term for him to make sense. Reimer at the right price for two years makes a ton of sense. Any more and I’m not sure I go there.

          • freethe flames

            Basically we agree, I just put a cap hit on my upper limit, 2 years @$3.5 m to prove again that he is an NH starter. He has become the back up in SJ and unless he gets in the series and leads them to the cup his value is IMO dropping and the rumored ask of $5m and longer term is just too rich for the Flames. I am sure BT and the management team and professional scouts have done their homework. IMO this will not get done until they have signed a coach and not until draft day. Are there any other UFA’s that make sense at the right price point? What is the cost of acquiring a goalie via trade that makes sense for the flames?

  • knappsacked

    So what about the sixth overall pick for matt murray? Who adds? Bcuz im a little biased, id say it should be

    Flames:matt murray, pitt 2nd/daniel sprong

    Pitts:6th overall, stajan

    Flames could parlay that second along with other picks to get back into the first round, they have their elite starter, and rid themselves of stajan.

    Pittsburgh gets forward depth, a veteren shutdown guy who is also in win now mode, they draft a top guy dman cuz there d depth is terrible, and the are set for the expansion draft.

    Thoughts?

    • deantheraven

      Maybe Wideman would be a fit with Pittsbugh, with some salary retained. I’d make almost any deal for Murray with them if Wideman was part of it. Murray’s not a guaranteed #1 yet but if he an Ortio were the tandem it would be easier to decide who to protect for the expansion draft after 1 season of both.