It may seem a little silly to talk about goaltending coming off an 8-1 win, but with Joni Ortio returned to the AHL and due to make his first start for the Heat since the Olympics, it's a subject worth revisiting.
You may recall I wrote about the Flames' goaltending earlier this month. That post was published three days before the trade deadline, and a few significant moves have happened to the Flames' collection of goalies since then.
- Reto Berra was traded to the Colorado Avalanche for a second (!) round pick.
- Joni Ortio became the Flames' starter for a few weeks.
If the Flames don't alter their goaltending at all over the off-season, next year we'll be looking at a Ramo/Ortio tandem in the NHL, while Olivier Roy and maybe Joey MacDonald or maybe Aaron Dell hold down the fort on the farm (assuming Jon Gillies remains in college).
Making a trade
I've seen two names come up recently regarding goalies the Flames may trade for: Cam Ward and James Reimer.
My initial position was the Flames weren't in immediate need of making a trade for a goalie. However, while at the start of the season the Flames' goaltending prospect pool looked rather strong - in addition to Ortio and Gillies, there was also Laurent Brossoit, who is currently posting a .920 save percentage in the ECHL for the Oilers' affiliate - it has now depleted somewhat.
If Ortio graduates to the NHL in just his second North American season, then Gillies will be the Flames' only goaltending prospect left (barring the Flames drafting a goalie, but in all likelihood, that kid would simply remain with his junior team next season).
That leaves next to no insurance for the Flames in net, and may result in the team rushing Ortio. While the Flames will, in all likelihood, continue rebuilding next season, they still need an actual presence in net.
Hence, Ward and Reimer.
Cam Ward has fallen out of favour in Carolina, and for good reason. Anton Khudobin is younger, cheaper, and currently posting a .927 save percentage. Ward, meanwhile, has a save percentage of .896 this season.
To put that into perspective, Reto Berra had a greater save percentage when he was with the Flames: .897.
Ward may have been a hero in 2006, but that was eight years ago. He has two years left on his $6.3 million deal, and has only ever posted a save percentage above .920 once in his career (.923, in 2010-11).
If the Flames trade for Ward, it had better be a bad contract for bad contract deal; otherwise, it makes no sense. Cam Ward isn't a good goalie. He isn't going to help.
This leads to the better option of the two. Reimer seems like he isn't long for Toronto. Randy Carlyle seems to hate him for some reason. Because he was one of Brian Burke's guys, and Brian Burke is now managing Calgary, a team with no clear-cut number one... well, the connection is obvious.
Reimer is playing on a historically bad Maple Leafs team, and despite this, his save percentage is still better than any Flames goaltender this year at .911. Last season, before handing the crease over to Jonathan Bernier, he posted a .924 save percentage over 33 games. He's two years younger than Ramo, and has proven more than him already, although these are based on small sample sizes for both goalies (neither has played 40 games in a single NHL season).
However, we don't know what Toronto is looking for in return. If he's going to be costly, walk away.
If, however, he's going to be cheap - say, Colorado's second round pick cheap - then that's a trade the Flames should do. It would immediately take the pressure off Ortio, give him another year to adapt, and not leave the Flames in dire straits should a goaltender go down.
A Ramo/Reimer tandem with Ortio starting in the AHL certainly sounds better than a Ramo/Ortio tandem with not much else.
It comes down to three things:
- Do you want to throw Ortio into the fire?
- Can Ortio handle the fire?
- How much is another goalie going to cost?