CAGE MATCH - GOALTENDING PREVIEW
For the first time in a decade, the Calgary Flames don't have a man in mind between the pipes. After retiring earlier this week as the franchise's all-time leader in wins (305), shutouts (41) and games played (576), Miikka Kiprusoff has removed any chance of backstopping the Flames for a 10th consecutive season.
Kiprusoff's departure didn't come as a surprise and as such, general manager Jay Feaster ensured there was plenty in the pipeline. He acquired Karri Ramo from the Montreal Canadiens in the deal that brought back forward Michael Cammalleri and ensured Reto Berra was a part of the trade deadline deal that sent defenceman Jay Bouwmeester to the St. Louis Blues.
Those acquisitions, the re-signing of Joey MacDonald in late April and Kiprusoff's subsequent retirement paint a picture of opportunity in Calgary's crease.
CALGARYFLAMES.COM 3 PLAYERS TO WATCH
Karri Ramo -
Goalie - CGY
2012-13 (KHL) Record: 26-9-5
GAA: 2.00 | Sv%: .929
Inked on July 5th to a two year, $5.5 million contract on July 5th, Ramo will have every opportunity to emerge from training camp as Calgary's top 'tender heading into the 2013-14 season.
The two-time KHL All-Star is no stranger to the National Hockey League, having broke into the league as a 21-year-old with the Tampa Bay Lightning. After two seasons split between the NHL and American Hockey League, Ramo returned to Europe to backstop Omsk Avangard in the Kontinental Hockey League. Ramo, 27, found great success in the KHL, twice named an all-star in his four seasons of action while compiling a 99-48-22 record with a 2.01 goals against average and .923 save percentage.
Those totals include the work Ramo put in last season, arguably his best year with Omsk. The 6-foot goaltender recorded a 26-9-5 record with a 2.00 goals against average and .929 save percentage in 40 games.
Set to make his re-debut in the NHL with the Flames, the former sixth round pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft could have a line on the crease when Calgary's season opens.
Reto Berra -
Goalie - CGY
2012-13 (Swiss-A) Record: 24-21-1
GAA: 3.01 | Sv%: .906
Spending his entire career in Switzerland, Berra is venturing into professional hockey in North America for the first time after signing a one year entry-level deal.
Berra, acquired with defenceman Mark Cundari, was originally a fourth round pick of the St. Louis Blues in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Berra was selected after shining for Switzerland in international action, including memorable performances at the 2005 World Under-18 Championship and the World Junior Championship in 2006.
The 26-year-old has been equally spectacular on home ice, starring in Switzerland's top league as the starter for EHC Biel and is a candidate to represent his country at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Berra thrust himself into the Olympic debate after a strong playoff performance with Biel coupled with a standout performance at the 2013 IIHF World Championship, helping Switzerland into the gold medal final against Sweden. The silver was Switzerland's second-ever at the event and first since 1935.
If Berra can move that momentum to North America, the 6-foot-4 stopper can inject himself into the goaltending picture in Calgary.
Joey MacDonald -
Goalie - CGY
2012-13 Record: 8-9-1
GAA: 2.87 | Sv%: .902
The only returning goaltender from the Flames' roster last season and the elder statesman at 33-years-old, MacDonald could be the man with the inside track in Calgary.
With seven years of NHL action split between five franchises, MacDonald has logged 122 games of
experience and is the only goaltender coming to camp who has played in the league in the past four seasons.
MacDonald's most notable action has come as a member of the Flames. Plucked off waivers from the Detroit Red Wings after overcoming a back injury in mid-February, the 6-foot journeyman performed admirably in the wake of an injury to Kiprusoff. In all, MacDonald saw action in 21 of 48 games for Calgary, recording an 8-9-1 record with a 2.87 goals against average and .902 save percentage.
With the chance to earn a full-time starting gig and an opportunity to eclipse a career-best 49 games played in a single season, MacDonald will be more than motivated to tend Calgary's vacant crease.