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Goalie Ramo is wild card for Calgary

Aug 14, 2013, 1:26 PM EDT

Karri Ramo Getty Images

When Karri Ramo left for the KHL in 2009, he didn’t exactly leave an impressive NHL stat line behind him. At the time of his departure, the Finnish goalie had played 48 games for the Tampa Bay Lightning, registering a .895 save percentage with a 3.35 goals-against average.

But Ramo’s fortunes turned for the better during his four-season stint with Omsk Avangard, and now he’s back in the NHL with the Calgary Flames.

In fact, with the expected retirement of Miikka Kiprusoff, Ramo could very well be the Flames’ starter next season. (Barring the acquisition of another netminder, it would seem to be either him or Joey MacDonald.)

Ramo, 27, went 26-9-5 with a .929 save percentage last season for Omsk Avangard. In terms of save percentage, only six KHL goalies were better than that.

Now, it has to be noted that success in the KHL doesn’t guarantee success in North America. We are, after all, talking about a league where journeyman Curtis Sanford registered a .927 save percentage last year.

Having said that, it’s hard to imagine Ramo does any worse in 2013-14 than the Flames’ goalies did last season when they combined for a .889 save percentage. Only the NHL-worst Florida Panthers had poorer goaltending (.887) than that, statistically speaking.

“Karri Ramo provides us with greater depth at a critical position,” said Flames general manager Jay Feaster when the club acquired the goalie’s rights from the Canadiens in December. “Ramo has NHL experience and is one of the top goaltenders in Europe. His work ethic and dedication are first rate, and he is just starting to enter the prime of his career. We believe he has the tools and mental make-up necessary to be a number one goaltender in the NHL, and are pleased to add him to our organization.”

From Sergei Bobrovsky in Columbus to James Reimer in Toronto, we saw last season just how big a factor goaltending can play in turning a team from a loser into a winner. The Blue Jackets went from dead last in the NHL to middle of the pack; the Maple Leafs made the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

Put it this way: Of the 10 teams with the highest team percentages in 2013, only Columbus and Edmonton missed the playoffs. And of the 10 teams with the lowest save percentages, only the Islanders made the playoffs.

Bit of a correlation there.

Whether Ramo is up for the task remains to be seen. But if he is, the Flames may not be as bad as many are expecting.

  1. superman4u2nv - Aug 14, 2013 at 2:27 PM

    Really this guys Gona be The flames saviour, no goaltender is Gona stop the bleeding here their defence sucks they have no offence any more! They should change it from the scotia bank saddle dome to TAMPAX SADDLE DOME!!!!!

  2. phillyphanatic77 - Aug 14, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    He may well be a solid starter but idk how he’s worth 2.5mil after proving nothing in the NHL. Just bc Kipper became a star at 26-27 doesn’t Ramo or Berra will do the same. But hey, atleast they have Joey Macdonald as a safety net. The Flames, Panthers, and Sabres look to be competing in a tight race for the best chances in next years draft lottery.

    • erbaker67 - Aug 14, 2013 at 4:02 PM

      Maybe I am a little out of the loop but Ramo isnt that bad. He made some saves he definitely shouldnt have while with Tampa. Tampa’s defense was so bad that no amount of goaltending could save them while he was there. While I do agree that 2.5 million is a lot for a goalie who hasnt proved anything, he really isnt THAT bad of a goalie. Thats not to say that Calgary’s D is that great either. I just remember watching Tampa while I was living in the Tampa Bay area and thinking how good he could be if Tampa’s D was a little better.

      • phillyphanatic77 - Aug 14, 2013 at 5:34 PM

        No I agree he’s not bad. Like I said, he may be a solid starter it’s just risky paying a guy that much when he hasn’t shown anything at the NHL level. But the Flames have plenty of cap space and clearly are focused on the long haul rebuild, so I guess it’s not a big issue. It seems these guys (Ramo, MacDonald, Berra) are just holding down the fort until Jon Gillies is NHL-ready. That kid is a stud and clearly the future in Calgary (barring some unforeseen trouble in his developmen).

  3. loob12 - Aug 14, 2013 at 4:25 PM

    What about Reto Berra? I’d understood he was going to be in the mix as well after a good world championships. Maybe it’s really just Ramo vs. Macdonald in camp, but Berra is basically Switzerland’s # 2 goalie behind Hiller, and I suspect he’ll get a look.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Aug 14, 2013 at 7:20 PM

      Based strictly on salaries the depth chart goes Ramo, Berra then MacDonald, I think MacDonald is the veteran insurance policy if Ramo and/or Berra turn out to be complete disasters, like Leland Irving was, but Berra and Ramo will play the majority of the games.

      I’m excited to see both but Ramo in particular, his numbers weren’t great in Tampa but he’s had great numbers in the K for the last 3 seasons, particularly in the playoffs, and led his team to the championship in 2011-12.

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