Thursday, October 25, 2007


New Subject!

So, I've been predicting on-and-off since last season -- and consistently since late June -- that Kiprusoff is not going to be re-signed by the Flames. I'm not going to rehash it all in detail (see here, here, and here), but the gist is that (1) Phaneuf is going to be very expensive, and (2) I don't see how they can replace both Langkow and Huselius with rookies/4th-liners, which is roughly where they'd be if they forked out for Kipper.

Given that, I still think by far the most likely eventuality is that he plays out the season and walks. But, last week Bruce Dowbiggin stated (if not quite argued) the case for trading Kipper:
Calgary isn't dreaming of surviving anymore. It wants a Cup.

If keeping Kiprusoff at a big number or letting him go for nothing next summer stands in the way of that ultimate goal, then there is only one logical direction for the Flames to go.

Now, I question a bunch of his premises, including but not limited to:
However, that last one got me to thinking about who could potentially be at the opposite end of a Kipper trade. So behold my musings!

29-22. Don't Want Him, Don't Need Him: Islanders, New Jersey, Anaheim, Vancouver, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Florida, San Jose.

All these teams are set in goal. Happy with their quality, no contract troubles.

21-17. Don't Want, Don't Think We Need Him: Carolina, Dallas, Buffalo, Chicago, Ottawa. There's no real need to distinguish these five from the first eight; I count them separately only because they could at least theoretically be better in goal with Kipper. However, existing contract situations pretty much dictate that they're going with what they have, and it's hard to say how significant the upgrade would be anyway.

16-13. Sleeping in the Bed We Done Made: Nashville, Toronto, Boston, Edmonton. These teams almost certainly would be better in goal with Kipper, but it doesn't matter because they are in no position to acquire him. (Also note: if these were really strict rankings, the Oilers would be #29; I'm pretty sure there has never been an Oilers-Flames trade, ever.)

12-11. We Have Other Plans, They're Just Not Quite Official Yet: Rangers, Atlanta. Both teams have quality goalies who will be RFAs at the end of the season, as well as other plans and committments for their money.

10. Didn't You Hear? Mike Barnett Got Fired: Phoenix. Giving up prospects to acquire a top-end goalie right now -- even if with an eye to re-signing him -- makes zero sense and is exactly opposite of what Don Maloney seems to be trying to do.

9-8. Not Interested, But Leave Us His Number Anyway: Washington, Detroit. Both of these teams are much more likely to be Kiprusoff suitors on July 1 than January 1, with goalies who are also in their final contract years. Kipper is better than Kolzig, but this is supposed to be an on the way up year for the Caps, and it's exceedingly unlikely that they would give up anything of value in a later-for-now trade. I can easily see the Wings offering Kipper a dump truck full of money in the summer, but they can't afford to give up any prospects, and oh yeah, for they moment they have a 6-time Vezina winner who's still pretty outstanding.


This as I see it is the gap between teams with infinitessimal odds of acquiring Kipper, and those for whom it's merely unlikely. As such, it's a good time to run down the required elements of any Kipper trade. There are 3-team scenarios that make things more flexible, but you can figure that out on your own. Anyway:
  1. The Flames can take plenty of salary back, but only on expiring deals. The entire premise of this deal is that the Flames are looking forward and planning to re-sign their other players; they can't do that if the money that they're not going to spend on Kipper still goes to a big contract coming back
  2. The Flames probably need a 1A or quality backup goalie in return. It doesn't matter how down on the season Sutter gets, they won't be playing it out with Curtis McE and Matt Keetley (or Robert Esche).
  3. Obviously, they need some non-trivial future value.

7. Strict Rental: Montreal. It's hard to envision the Habs holding down a playoff spot if Huet is somewhat dodgy and Price is not-quite-ready... but if that happens, then they might look to rent a goalie.

Yes - they could send back either Huet or Halak
But - see "hard to envision" above

6. Rent-to-Own?: Tampa Bay. The Bolts need better goaltending, they know it, and they've known it for a while, but they are pretty limited in how they can address it by their existing salary structure. What is their medium/long term plan, though? Are they keeping all of their Big 3 or not? Either way, is their focus going to be re-signing Dan Boyle or getting a goaltender?

Yes - they can afford to pay Kipper's existing contract, and they may find themselves extremely motivated for even a short-term goalie fix
But - not sure what they have, let along what they can afford, to send back

5. Maybe if they were the Orlando Avalanche: Colorado. In case you're not counting the days along with Francois Giguere, Jose Theodore's contract comes off the books in the summer, and the Avs need short- and long-term goalie help.

Yes - could offer Kipper a big $$ extension on the spot
But - the Flames have always been happy to deal with the Avs, but giving them Kipper while they're fighting with them for the playoffs and possibly the NW title stretches the imagination too far

4. How Virtuous is Patience, Exactly?: Pittsburgh. Two things that are 90+% certain to be true: (1) it's too early to decide M-A Fleury will never be an elite goalie, and (2) the Pens will always be somewhat in contention as long as Crosby is around. That said, Pens GM Ray Shero has some very challenging planning issues, and in at least some sense, they have a short window in which to leverage the core group they have into a Stanley Cup. Malkin, Staal, Armstrong, and Christensen all need new deals after next season; Fleury is an RFA after this one.

If Shero judges that Fleury is the biggest thing holding them back from winning the East now, then he almost has to do something, doesn't he?

Yes - given their present abilities and their contract situations, Kipper-Fleury might just be a straight-up trade
But - if Fleury has three good games this week, Pittsburgh moves back up this list to #21 with Carolina

3. Goalie-on-Goalie Love: St. Louis. Who wouldn't, I suppose, but I'm quite certain that John Davidson would love to have a rock-solid goalie anchoring his team's renaissance.

Yes - might have a prospect to burn to send to Calgary, plus Legace who is signed thru next year
But - looking at available $$ and # of roster slots to be filled, they might not be as able to give Kipper the deal he's looking for

2. Stop the Insanity: Los Angeles. If Dean Lombardi decides that the difference between great and average-to-poor goaltending is the difference between playoffs and not-playoffs, he may decide to pull the trigger on a deal, "building for the future" be damned.

Yes - never believe a New York or L.A. sports exec when he says he's "not willing to sacrifice the future"
But - LaBarbera is probably at least average, and with Bernier on his way, a long-term extension for Kipper is not much of a fit

1. This is Where it All Comes Together: Columbus.

Team not settled on its long term future in goal: check!
Team trying to play a tight defensive style reminiscent of Kipper's greatest days: check!
Team with a 1A goalie and spare prospects to send back: check!
Team with plenty of money to re-sign Kipper to a long-term deal: check! (cough, FooteFedorov)
Coach that's crystal clear on the importance of a top-flight goalie: check!
GM who has seen up close what kind of difference Kipper can make: check!
Team that's good enough to use him now, but not good enough for Calgary to panic about helping: check!


Can I please stress one more time that I don't see a trade happening, whatsoever? There's no scenarios you can construct where it would suddenly be likely. If the Flames are good to great, they'll ride Kipper to the end. If they suck and Kipper also sucks, he's not going to be in the same kind of demand (and/or no one will care if he's traded). If they suck despite Kipper being great -- i.e. the next two months are one long Red Wings series -- then the Flames will suddenly care more about re-signing him than all other considerations.

Plausible is a relative term here. The most plausible scenario in which Kipper is traded is: he gets injured for 6 weeks, and Matt Keetley goes 16-2-1 with a .925SV% in his absence. The most plausible trading partner, noted above, has a 24-year-old goalie who has 3 shutouts in his 1st 5 games. Entertainment purposes only, etc. etc.

(Now watch next month when Ottawa acquires him for Ray Emery and Josh Hennessey)


I'd say trade him....he's clearly what's been holding Calgary back;o)

It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

I don't see CAL will trading him, and if he goes UFA COL seems like a pretty good fit.


"I'm pretty sure there has never been an Oilers-Flames trade, ever."

Wrong you are, sir! Why just in the 1983-84 season Calgary sent career 9-goal scorer Kari Jalonen to Edmonton. Not sure what they got for him, though.

Sorry, I was a little over-eager. Jalonen signed with the Oilers as a free agent at mid-season. I didn't know that had ever happened.

I'm more fascinated with the Langkow angle; he's over 30, he's coming off of a career year with a seemingly even better year, he gets along great with Iggy, but you've got to figure his value is NEVER going to be higher in trade than heading up to the deadline. I don't think the Flames can resign him for less than 4.5per, and you could argue that centre is our strongest position. Plus Boyd seems more ready than Keetley/McElhinney.

Maybe we should hold off on the Kiprusoff speculation until we have a better idea as to what kind of goalies we have in the system to replace him.

You can lump me into the "if you don't have a half decent goalie, it doesn't matter what you have up front" crowd, so I figure if you're going to overpay for anyone, it should be a top tier goalie.

If it's a pure rental, it's a team that will have to be in playoff position, which probably takes Columbus out of it. Los Angeles likely, too.

Goaltenders are tougher to deal at the deadline (or near it) because you're not adding a complementary piece — you're essentially demolishing a central part of your team all at once (i.e. taking out the old guy who put you in said playoff position and going with a new face, potentially for a few prospects).

That's a tough deal to make

If Columbus is the most likely trading partner, would it be possible for them to pull off what the Flyers did at the end of last season with Nashville, ie) trade for him before free agency starts to get a head start on negotiating.

What are we assuming Kipper, Phaneuf, Langkow, Huselius are worth?

Kipper's probably going to want Luongo money: 6.75-7

Phaneuf: In a league where Pavel Kubina gets 5 and Dustin Penner gets 4, Sutter must shudder to think what an auction is going to bring, but how much of a discount would Dion take? Lets say a cap number of 4.5per for 3 years.

Langkow: Looking for Nylander money he'd take 4.5per but it'd have to be a longish term

Huselius: Going to want H/D Sedin money; 3.5 to 4per.

Annonymous: Langkow and Huselius would be a perfect line for any team. I would expect 4.5M each to be low ball.
As for Columbus. Matt is bang on. With them Freeing up 11M from Fed/Foote and room to increase there budget(if team approved). 7M for Kipper and 7M for Phanuef would not be crazy.

The flames fan accross from my cubicle. Had me asking him (Since the Iginla - Reghr signings)who he would retain of those four.

"I'm pretty sure there has never been an Oilers-Flames trade, ever."

This is correct.

I don't see CAL trading him, and if he goes UFA COL seems like a pretty good fit.

There is no way Calgary and Edmonton fans should have to endure Ryan Smyth and Mikka Kiprusoff being on the same team, especially if that team is the Avalanche.

Next they'd hire assistant coaches Mark Messier and Al MacInnis.

I'm not sure why the Blue Jackets would do this. As Mirtle notes:Pascal Leclaire became the first NHL goaltender to record four shutouts in his first six starts of a season since the Maple Leafs’ Bruce Gamble did it after being called up from the minors late in the 1965-66 season.

The thing that worries me most is how good Phaneuf is looking so far this year. If he plays like this all season he's going to be a finalist for the Norris, and someone (*cough*lowe*cough*) is going to come in with an offer sheet over $6 million a year. Then what?

is going to come in with an offer sheet over $6 million a year. Then what?

You swallow hard and match. Dion probably has 8-10 PRIME years left barring injury; he's a guy you build the next generation of this team around. Hopefully you can get him signed early and for less, but IMHO the priority is: Phaneuf, Kipper, Langkow, Huselius.

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