Flames stay busy in dog days of summer, sign Ortio to new two-year pact
GM Brad Treliving expects to ink remaining RFAs Lance Bouma and Mark Cundari shortly
Brad Treliving must be looking forward to hockey season — to get a break.
Because the first-year general manager is marshalling the Calgary Flames through an awfully busy July.
He signed Joe Colborne on Tuesday.
Thursday, Joni Ortio was inked to a two-year deal.
In coming days, expect to see the remaining restricted free agents — forward Lance Bouma and defenceman Mark Cundari — under contract.
“You work away at it,” said Treliving, “but they’re never done until they’re done.”
(Signing blue-liner Chad Billins, bound for the KHL, is obviously not a priority. The Flames, thanks to an in-time qualifying offer, do retain his rights.) Hiring an assistant for Adirondack skipper Ryan Huska?
“We’re almost there,” said Treliving. “We’re comfortable that the guy we were looking to get . . . we’re going to get him.”
Getting a goalie coach for the Flames?
Any day now.
“Lots of talk and meeting and discussion,” said Treliving, “but we’re not there yet. I thought it would be done by now, but it’s not. We’re still working away at it.”
Even hotshot centre Sam Bennett, drafted fourth overall last month in Philadelphia, may wind up putting pen to paper in the near future.
“I wouldn’t say there’s urgency, (but) we’ve had some discussions,” said Treliving. “We are going to sign him — whether it’s today or six months from today. But I suspect it’s going to happen sooner rather than later.
“It’s not brain surgery. In a lot of these cases, guys get slotted in (contract-wise), based on draft (position). We’re going to have another discussion (later Thursday). Something could happen here shortly.”
But the day’s concrete news had been the signing of Ortio.
“We really think a lot of Joni,” said Treliving. “This is a young player who took a real big step forward last year.”
For Ortio, drafted in the 2009’s ninth round, last winter was his first full season in North America.
And the 23-year-old had been busy.
The Finn appeared four times for the ECHL Alaska Aces (3-1-0, 1.01 goals-against average, .944 save percentage); 37 times for the American Hockey League’s Abbotsford Heat (27-8-0, 2.33, .926); and nine times for the Flames (4-4-0, 2.51, .891).
In April, Flames boss Brian Burke had said that he envisions Ortio apprenticing in the AHL in 2014-15: “I don’t want Ortio backing up. I want him playing somewhere.”
Ortio’s handiwork, however, had earned him a spot on the AHL’s all-rookie team.
“(Progress) is always different for goaltenders,” said Treliving. “He excelled at the American league level, played well in his stint here. So he was obviously a player we wanted to make sure we locked up. We think there’s a lot of upside with Joni.”
C-NOTES: All indications suggest that G Jonas Hiller, who suffered an appendicitis attack last week, is going to be fine. “The procedure nowadays . . . they can do it arthroscopically,” said Treliving. “They’re saying within nine to 12 days, you’re up and back to normal. (Hiller’s agent) felt by next week that he’s right back in the swing of things. The hope and the plan and the expectation right now is that there’s no long recovery period.
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