Thursday, February 27, 2014

Joni Ortio's Flames Debut and Where it Ranks Statistically (and Historically)

When Joni Ortio makes his NHL debut tonight against the Los Angeles Kings, he will be the youngest goaltender to start a game for the Calgary Flames in over 14 seasons.

Ortio is 22 years and 318 days old. The last goaltender younger than him to start for the Flames was Jean-Sebastien Giguere in his last game for the Flames on Feb. 12, 2000. On that night, Giguere was 22 years and 272 days old. After that game, Giguere was returned to the Saint John Flames (AHL) and on June 10 in new general manager Craig Button's first trade, he was dealt to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim for a second round draft pick in the 2000 NHL entry draft.

Notably, you have to go back to the previous calendar year to find Giguere's last win with the Flames, which came on Dec. 29, 1999. That night at the Saddledome, Calgary won 3-1 over the Mighty Ducks with Giguere stopping 32 of 33 shots as he outduelled Guy Hebert. So, when Ortio picks up his first victory -- assuming it happens this season, he will be the youngest goaltender to win a game for the Flames since that Giguere victory over Anaheim.

Important Clarification... and Where Matt Keetley Fits In

Important to clarify is Ortio will not be the youngest goalie to 'play' for the Flames since Giguere, he will be the youngest goalie to 'start'. On Nov. 5, 2007 in Denver, Matt Keetley (21 years, 192 days) relieved Miikka Kiprusoff and played the final 9:22 of a 4-1 Flames loss to the Colorado Avalanche.

That would be the lone NHL appearance for Keetley who didn't allow a goal and faced two shots. A fifth round draft pick in 2005 out of Medicine Hat (WHL), Keetley's four years in the Flames organization were spent in the AHL and ECHL with the exception of a few brief stints as the back-up in Calgary.

Youngest Flames Goaltenders to Make Their NHL Debut

Here are the 10 youngest goalies to make their NHL debut for Calgary. Note the absence of Giguere from this list as his NHL debut came as a 19-year-old with Hartford in 1996-97. In terms of debuts, Ortio is the youngest Flames goaltender to make his NHL debut since Tyrone Garner in the 1998-99 season.

Much like Keetley, Garner's NHL career didn't amount to much either. He made only three appearances for Calgary including two starts -- all coming in the span of four days, for career totals of 0-2-0, 5.18 GAA, .838 SV%.

The last Flames goalie, younger than Ortio, to win his NHL debut was Tyler Moss, who beat Tom BarrassoRon Francis, Jaromir Jagr and the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3 on Oct. 28, 1997.

Included below is the date of their first start (in brackets) and their age in their NHL debut.

1. Mike Vernon (12-Dec-82), 19 years, 292 days
2. Trevor Kidd (03-Mar-92), 19 years, 343 days
3. Tyrone Garner (04-Jan-99), 20 years, 159 days
4. Tyler Moss (28-Oct-97), 22 years, 121 days
5. Joni Ortio (27-Feb-14), 22 years, 318 days
6. Doug Dadswell (22-Jan-87), 22 years, 350 days
7. Dany Sabourin (29-Oct-03), 23 years, 57 days
8. Andrei Trefilov (04-Nov-92), 23 years, 65 days
9. Leland Irving  (16-Dec-11), 23 years, 249 days
10. Jason Muzzatti (16-Oct-93), 23 years, 255 days

One notable omission from this list is Pat Riggin, who is not on the list because I went with NHL debuts with Calgary. Riggin's NHL debut came on Oct. 13, 1979, during the Flames last season in Atlanta. He was 20 years and 141 days old and had I included him, he would have been third on the above list.

Recap of Ortio Firsts

  • Youngest Flames goalie to play in a game since Matt Keetley on Nov. 5, 2007
  • Youngest Flames goalie to start a game since JS Giguere on Feb. 12, 2000
  • Youngest Flames goalie to make his NHL debut since Tyrone Garner on Jan. 4, 1999
  • (If...) Youngest Flames goalie to win a game since JS Giguere on Dec. 29, 1999
  • (If...) Youngest Flames goalie to win his NHL debut since Tyler Moss on Oct. 28, 1997

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