Thursday, September 20, 2007


Flames Preview: Goaltending

1. Miikka Kiprusoff

Not really a lot of scouting to be done here: Kipper's great. If he avoids injury, there's very little reason to expect his performance to drop from the last couple of seasons.

How much should he play? I've hashed this out enough times. I think starting your #1 guy more than 65 times is ill-advised.
Is this his last season as a Flame? I'm still guessing yes, because I think he can get a bigger, richer, longer deal somewhere else, and not just marginally. Luongo signed for $6.75M x 4 (as an RFA) when the cap was $44M. Khabibulin signed for $6.75M x 4 when the cap was $39M. Next year, the cap will probably be $52M-$53M. He could make a lot of money as a UFA.

I don't think Sutter can afford to pay him market value, or even close, and I'm not convinced that he would if he could -- for several reasons, only one of which is that I don't think he wants to pay him more than Iginla. And I don't think Kipper is inclined to sign for much below market value: he gave the Flames a gift with his last contract, and hey, if he was happy to sign at the Flames' price, he would have already.

Expecting anything different from him this year? No. In the '06 playoffs, I thought he was a hair slower at the end of a long year (recall that prior to the '04 playoffs, he only played 35 regular season games). But in the '07 playoffs, he was obviously 100%. I think Luongo might be a bit more talented overall, and Giguere is probably better fundamentally and at anticipating the puck, but no one is as athletic as Kipper. (I realize that athletic is usually used to describe goalies whose fundamentals appear weak, yet manage to stop the puck anyway. Kipper has excellent fundamentals and is astoundingly athletic within that framework. No one covers the far post with his pad as fast as Kipper).

That is to say, he's plently fit enough to play his best game no matter how much Keenan wants to use him.

2. Curtis McElhinney, Brent Krahn, Leland Irving, Matt Keetley, Kevin Lalande

I was so, so hoping that one of these guys would come into camp and just knock everyone's socks off. No dice, although it hasn't been bad news per se.

Keetley appears to be pro-ready, which is great. He showed nicely in the 1st preseason game vs. Florida, and the coaches have had nothing but good things to say. Lalande has been sent to the AHL Flames as well; whether he's pro-ready is TBD.

I was hoping Irving would get a look in an actual game, but he was sent back to Everett. It's hard to imagine that he's that well-served by playing another 75 games against junior shooters, but as a 19-year-old there's really no other options.

Krahn has (for the most part) struggled in the minors for years, interrupted only by serious injuries. Naturally he hurt his knee quite promptly in rookie camp this year. I feel bad for the guy, however, even before this camp, he's had chances. I was completely surprised that he was re-signed in July. His work is now perfectly cut out for him: get well, be the best non-Finnish Flames goalie, and earn the backup job. Anything less probably spells the end of his NHL hopes.

McElhinney now appears to be slotted in as the big club's backup goalie, which seems like a decent way to start the season. He had a nice college career, a terrific season with Omaha last year, he's had a nice camp, and (at least prior to last night's 3rd period) there's no reason to believe he can't succeed in this role. It's always a bit of a feel-good story when a 6th-round pick works his way up to deserving an NHL job; it would sure be nice if the story continues, and the ending is happy.

And if that doesn't work out, well, Noodles is available.


Keetley's very good; he was terrific in the Memorial Cup and the only reason the Tigers were in that final game.

Keetley played very well in the game against Florida as well. It'll be interesting to see how he fares in QC this year.

Hey guys,

The Orland Kurtenblog has a new address:

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