It’s not uncommon to see an NHL team with two “No.1” goalies on their roster; teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Minnesota Wild have been in this situation for the past couple of seasons now. The Calgary Flames were considered to be a rebuilding team coming into the year, but since finding some success this season, choosing who to start in net each night has become a tricky task. Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo were winning games for the team, forcing head coach Bob Hartley to do the right thing and just go with who ever was winning games at the time.
Fast-forward to present day and Ramo has missed the last two weeks with an injury suffered in a collision with teammate Rafael Diaz, forcing the team to call up Joni Ortio from the Adirondack Flames of the AHL. Hiller had a rough game against the Florida Panthers on Jan. 9, causing Hartley to start Ortio the next game; and Ortio has taken full advantage of the opportunity.
Ortio has started five straight games this season, all on the road, winning four of those contests. He posted a 93.1 save percentage and a 1.98 goals against average which are great numbers for someone with only 13 NHL starts. Apart from the Jan. 21 6-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, Ortio proved that he is capable of at least being a backup in the NHL for now.
This puts Calgary in a tough spot.
Hiller is the obvious choice to be the starter in Calgary, and he won’t be moved by the team. It’s unwise to go with three goalies on your roster for a full 82-game schedule, leaving the Flames to decide between Ramo and Ortio.
Ramo is the older, more experienced option, but if they have Ortio up with Calgary on a full-time basis, he’ll naturally replace Hiller whenever Hiller leaves Calgary either by retirement, trade or free agency.
The Flames need to decide who their two goalies are going to be next season by the trade deadline in February. Ramo is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, and Calgary could trade him at the deadline in order to get something in return as opposed to losing him for nothing to free agency. Ortio has certainly made a good case for himself as to why he should be with Calgary, leaving Flames management with tough choices ahead in goal.