It was an unexpectedly excellent season for the Flames, who bowed out of the playoffs in the second round after earning the West's eighth seed, but that doesn't mean there won't be any changes this offseason in Calgary.
One likely change will be to the situation in net. Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo essentially platooned this past season, with Hiller playing 52 games and Ramo playing 34 (playoff games were split evenly at seven apiece). But Ramo is set to become an unrestricted free agent onJuly 1, and it's unclear if the Flames will try to bring him back since they also have youngster Joni Ortio seemingly ready to step in and compete for the starting job.
Ortio certainly looked the part in his six-game audition in Calgary at midseason, going 4-2 with a 2.52 GAA and .908 save percentage, numbers almost identical to Ramo's.
Ramo said during the Flames' exit interviews that he'd like to be back, but it sounds as if he doesn't necessarily expect it.
"At my stage of my career, I’m turning 29, so there’s still a few years left, but do I want to change again? I don’t know. We’ll see," Ramo told the team's official site.
"(Free agency is) tempting for everybody ,and it’s my first time I might have to choose where I want to go. It’s something new for me in my career. We’ll see."
If the Flames decide to let Hiller and Ortio compete for the starting job, or perhaps platoon the way Hiller and Ramo have, they could allocate Ramo's money elsewhere in an effort to take a step forward next season. And if they do so, Ramo would draw some interest. Outside of the Wild's Devan Dubnyk (who is expected to re-sign) and the Sharks' Antti Niemi, free agency doesn't offer a lot this offseason in the goalie department.
If they determine, on the other hand, that keeping Ramo is the best way to go, Ortio could become trade bait for a team looking for a young goalie to develop. After two successful years at the AHL level, it seems Ortio has little left to prove there.
So whatever the Flames opt to do with Ramo, it will have a ripple effect on the goaltending market this offseason.
(h/t InGoal) Image Credit: Candace Ward, USA TODAY Sports