The Flames reported today that Jonas Hiller is out for at least a week with an undisclosed lower body injury, sustained in the third period against the Ottawa Senators after a collision with Bobby Ryan. Hiller's injury was pretty much confirmed with the recall of Karri Ramo yesterday, but now we have approximate dates for when he can come back.
There is no timetable for his return, but the earliest he can return to action is Thurday, November 5th at home against the Philadelphia Flyers. Joni Ortio remains the starter tonight, but we could potentially see Ramo in the net tomorrow against the Oilers.
Just when you thought we had resolved the goaltending dispute, this happens. Even if Ramo steals the spotlight, it's in the Flames' best interests to return him to the farm after Hiller returns. Per NHL rules, non-waiver exempt players have 30 days after clearing for waivers to kick in again. Come November 21st, the Flames will have to waive him again if he is still in the NHL to reassign him to Stockton. Since Ortio is too valuable to give up, and Hiller a better goaltender, it only makes sense to send Ramo down without losing a key piece of the current team (though it's unlikely anyone will pick up his $3.8M cap hit if he is waived again).
Another option is to send Hiller down to the AHL for a two-week conditioning stint. He may need some place to regain form considering the location of his injury, and if you can send him down without waiving him, do it. Approximately, the Flames can do all of this by the time November 21st swings around, so there would be no need to waive anyone.
The third and least preferable option is trading for a goaltender. Yesterday, rumours floated around Twitter involving the Flames trading for Cam Ward, a goaltender who hasn't been worth his weight since about 2010.
It's a weird suggestion to make. At his best, Ward is about even with Hiller, just $1.8M more expensive (though on the final year of his contract, same as Hiller). The trade doesn't make much sense for either team, unless the Flames are trying to dump another salary onto the Hurricanes and their $8.2M cap space, if they even are willing to take another bad contract for the sake of it. Ward provides no real upside, and only further complicates the goaltending situation.
But wait, you thought it ended there? Nope! Elliotte Friedman suggested on the Fan 960 this morning that the Flames could be poking around at Ben Bishop. The Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender is probably better than the current Flames goaltenders, even though he is starting for one of the league's best teams. Tampa would want a substantial price for his services, and it could mean nothing if the Flames don't improve defensively. Trading for a goaltender is overreacting to the current situation without addressing the real problems that plague this team. It would be a backwards move, and can only hurt the team in the future.
Whatever happens, all we ask for is goaltending stability. Can we at least have that?