TORONTO – Karri Ramo was looking for a place to rehab his surgically repaired left knee. The Toronto Maple Leafs were more than happy to take him in.
There is no professional tryout agreement between the parties, nor a standard player contract.
Ramo has simply been hanging out around the Maple Leafs practice facility the last little while on his own recognizance, which was reason enough to wonder if he might be a candidate to join the organization at some point. Then he stepped on the ice as the third goaltender at practice Friday, behind Frederik Andersen and Jhonas Enroth.
“So Ramo was out there with us today,” said coach Mike Babcock. “His agent has a relationship with (GM) Lou (Lamoriello), he knows Lou. So he needed to get in shape and get his knee redone. Our guys helped him with that process and he was out on the ice today with us because we didn’t want Andy to have a whole bunch of shots.
“So that’s the scoop there.”
Asked if Ramo will continue skating with the team, Babcock replied: “Yeah, that’s a good question.”
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The Leafs declined to make Ramo available for an interview. His agent, Todd Diamond, told Sportsnet that the goalie is still recovering from surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus damage in February, and is hoping to receive medical clearance from a Toronto-based surgeon by the end of the month.
“I haven’t seen him much but it was cool to see him get in to the real practice again,” said Andersen. “I know that feeling when you’re working out with the goalie coach – in this case Stevie (Briere). He’s done a great job.
“It lifts your spirits a little bit once you get out there with the guys and compete a little bit.”
Ramo was given an eight- to 10-month timetable for recovery and there’s a belief that everything is on schedule. He spent the last three seasons with the Calgary Flames – posting a .911 save percentage in 111 appearances – after returning from a stint in the KHL.
A couple NHL teams have been in the market for goaltending help early this season, but the Leafs haven’t been one of them. Andersen is just beginning a $25-million, five-year deal after arriving in a trade with Anaheim while Enroth was brought in to be his backup on an affordable $750,000, one-year contract in August.
Still, a deal for Ramo can’t be completely ruled out.
He had a nameplate above the locker in the team’s dressing room on Friday and was wearing a Catapult Sports tracking device. It’s hard to imagine that the Leafs sports science staff would bother collecting data on a player they have no interest in.
Adding him would require some roster juggling since Toronto only has one available contract slot open – and that could soon belong to Jared Cowen, pending the result of an ongoing arbitration case.
The team also has two healthy NHL goalies.
Andersen seems to have recovered from his early struggles with three solid starts in a row while Enroth has been used sparingly so far. He has an .871 save percentage to show for two appearances – both of which came in the second half of a back-to-back.
Ramo is an unrestricted free agent who will be anxious to find a job once he receives the necessary medical clearance on his left knee. Barring a setback, it should come soon.
Could Toronto be a fit?
The possibility sure isn’t being ruled out.
“You know that’s a great question,” said Babcock. “He came here because of a relationship with Lou and the agent. So we obviously have a big medical staff and a great facility, he wanted to be in Toronto and so he came here.”