Usually at this time of year the main questions in net are for the Flyers, but never have I seen a more convoluted goaltending situation than there is in Calgary.
As I mentioned in my last blog Calgary is in tough at center, with no #1 or #2 center going into camp. As scary as that is, if Kipper retires (nearly assured) Calgary has no proven #1 goalie either.
The Flames will probably have career backup Joey MacDonald, Euro staples Reto Berra and Karri Ramo, along with up-and-comers Laurent Brossoit and Jani Ortio suiting up in camp. Lots of trimmings, but to quote an old but humourous commercial: ‘where’s the beef’?
Joey MacDonald and Karri Ramo are the only two goalies on one-way contracts so based on that alone, they are the odds on favourites to start the season.
We have seen a bit of Joey and he was solid last year. But he is 33 years old and I am not sure it is reasonable to expect him to progress from career backup to bona fide starter overnight just because he will be given the opportunity.
Ramo was a star in the KHL before coming back to the NHL, being referred to by some as the best goaltender outside the NHL. I am not sure if that is true, but even if it is, it is big jump from the K to the NHL.
Ramo played parts of three seasons for Tampa and their AHL affiliates amassing a total of just 48 games in the NHL with a SA% under.900 and a GAA approaching 3.5. So with his NHL future in question he left for Europe.
His next season Ramo spent playing for Omsk in the K and his SA% elevated to .913, showing the immediate returns of playing in an inferior league. Since then he has played three more seasons in Russia, and his numbers have improved, as has the KHL, but it is still a quantum leap to the NHL. I feel MacDonald will probably be as good as Ramo.
Berra is well known to Coach Hartley and has seen his stock rise considerably in the Swiss league. However I watched him closely in the prospects camp in July and he looks like he needs some seasoning in the AHL.
Brossoit and Ortio are the low men on the totem pole and will likely be fighting for a spot in Abby.
If I am reasonably close in my assessment of these goalies, combined with so many youngsters likely to be in the lineup, our starting goaltenders are going to be shelled a lot of nights. And if things don’t shore up quickly I think the Flames will be looking for a starting goalie after 20 games or so.
How about Tim Thomas?
Factoid: During his tenure (including full seasons only) MIkka Kiprusoff averaged 73.4 games per season.
Thanks for reading.