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Calgary Flames unsettled in goal heading into heading into off-season

05/13/2015 06:16 EDT | Updated 05/13/2016 05:59 EDT
CALGARY - The Calgary Flames head into this summer with an intriguing situation in goal.

The last man to stand in Calgary's net this season will be an unrestricted free agent. Karri Ramo made 44 saves Sunday gave the Flames a chance to extend their conference semifinal against the Anaheim Ducks, but Calgary's season ended with a 3-2 overtime loss in Game 6.

Jonas Hiller posted a 26-19-4 record starting the majority of games, with a goals-against average of 2.36 and a save percentage of .918.

The 33-year-old Swiss netminder was Calgary's starter in the first round against Vancouver, but was on the bench the last four games of the Anaheim series.

Hiller was solid and, at times, stellar during a 6-1 stretch towards the end of the season when the Flames clinched a playoff berth at the finish line.

But it was a short trip to backup status in Calgary this season as coach Bob Hartley wasn't shy about swapping goalies during games, or giving Ramo the nod if Hiller took a loss in the previous game.

Hiller, six foot two and 192 pounds, has one year remaining on a contract that will pay him $4.5 million next season.

Ramo, six foot two and 206 pounds, has played out his two-year, $5.5-million deal. He turns 29 the day free agency opens July 1.

To add another wrinkle at that position, minor-league prospect Joni Ortio is spoiling for more NHL games.

The 24-year-old went 4-1 in a mid-season callup when Ramo was injured. Ortio allowed a combined five goals in four wins over division rivals.

Flames general manager Brad Treliving says settling the goaltending matter is on his to-do list.

He has ample salary cap money to spend on re-signing Ramo, but may choose to spend it elsewhere if he feels Hiller and Ortio can maintain, or improve, the Flames in goal.

"I thought both Jonas and Karri, they were a real big reason we got to where we got to," the GM said earlier this week when the Flames cleaned out their lockers.

"It seemed one guy ran with it a little bit and the other guy picked him up. We saw that in the playoffs. Carrying three goaltenders — you can do it for a short period of time — it doesn't make sense. That's a decision we've got to make. We're just not there yet."

Ramo went 15-9-3 in the regular season with a GAA of 2.60 and a save percentage of .912. He raised his free-agent stock in the playoffs.

When Hiller gave up two goals on three shots to start Game 6 versus Vancouver, Ramo's 17 saves in relief helped the Flames recover for a 7-4 victory and the series win.

Ramo took over for Hiller again in the second period of a 6-1 loss to open the Anaheim series. He stopped 18 of 21 shots.

Hartley stayed with Ramo the remaining four games. The Finn averaged 2.86 goals against per game and his save percentage was .906 in seven playoff appearances.

He'll be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.

"I don't think I'm in a bad position," Ramo said. "It's my first time that I might have a chance to choose where I want to go.

"I gave everything I have when I played and that's when you earn contracts."

A Ramo departure would open the door for Hiller to fully establish himself as Calgary's No. 1 and earn a contract extension next season.

"It wasn't easy to have two guys," Hiller said. "Sometimes it was tough because you felt good about your game and then you didn't play for awhile.

"It definitely helped the team to have that situation with the two goalies, even though as a goalie you sometimes wish you could just keep playing, especially if you feel good about yourself."

Ortio would feel overlooked if he spent another season in the minors.

His short but successful stint with the parent club has the six-foot-one, 185-pound Finn wanting to challenge Hiller.

"To have those games is huge for sure," Ortio said.

"It made me feel I'm ready to take the step, be here full time and battle for that starting job. That's what I'll be looking to do next September in camp.

"No one wants to back up. Hopefully it's my first full year in the NHL so I don't think there's any better motivation than that."

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