They were in talks with free-agent forward Michael Cammalleri right down to the wire, but when Cammalleri opted to leave the Calgary Flames to sign a five-year, $25-million contract with the New Jersey Devils, then immediately turned to Plan B, and signed Mason Raymond to a three-year deal.
Raymond had 45 points in 82 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season, lingering on the market all of last summer, before going to the Leafs on a tryout and earning a contract in the exhibition season. Raymond, 28, played his first six seasons for the Vancouver Canucks and essentially is coming home. He was born in Cochrane and played two years for Camrose in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He is 6-foot, 185 pounds - bigger than Cammalleri but Raymond will basically fill the same role on the rebuilding Flames’ team. Raymond received a three-year deal from Calgary.
Cammalleri led the Flames in goal-scoring with 26 goals in 63 games, one of only two Calgary players to score more than 20 last season.
After flirting with the Carolina Hurricanes for goaltender Cam Ward at the entry draft, the Flames then turned around and signed former Anaheim Ducks’ goalie Jonas Hiller on a two-year contract worth $4.5-million per season. Hiller was the odd man out in Anaheim, where the Ducks have committed to playing youngsters John Gibson and Frederik Andersen in his place.
Hiller will share the net with Karri Ramo, who emerged as the team’s starter in the second half last year, where he put up a 17-15-4 mark. Hiller originally joined the Ducks as a free agent in May of 2007, back when Brian Burke was the Ducks’ executive vice-president and general manager. Burke is now the president of hockey operations for Calgary, so there is a prior relationship there. Hiller stabilizes the team’s goaltending which has been in a state of flux since Miikka Kiprusoff retired two seasons ago.
“You look at Anaheim’s situation last year, for periods of time, there were some struggles if you will for Jonas, but there were also some periods of brilliance, as he’s had over his career,” said Treliving. “You also look at that organization, they had three young goaltenders in the system, two that are up there now and are excellent goaltenders.
“But this is a good NHL goaltender. I want to make it clear. It is the most important position on the team.”
Hiller, who is from Switzerland, agreed there would be a shift in expectations – and climate – in his new NHL home.
“I hope I still have my winter jacket,” he said, in a telephone interview. “It’s going to be a little change from California, and I’m sure it will take some time to adjust off the ice. But I’m excited to start a new chapter and I’m excited to be playing in Canada. I think it’s a must for every player to play for a Canadian team sometime in your career.
“I’m excited to be in a place where people really care about hockey.”
The other goaltender in the team’s organization, Joni Ortio, is not considered NHL ready and Reto Berra who mostly split the job with Ramo last year, was traded to the Colorado Avalanche at the deadline.
The Flames also signed Derek Engelland, the former Penguin, to a three-year contract worth $8.7-million, presumably to add more truculence to the lineup.