November 1, 2007

The Downside of a Deal


With Miikka Kiprusoff signing a six-year extension with the Calgary Flames, it gives the Flames piece of mind behind the net. Why wouldn’t they want to lock up a goalie who has been a finalist for the Vezina Trophy all three seasons he has been in Calgary, winning it at the end of the 2006 season??

Yet, in all the praise and celebration in Calgary about this deal, the fact remains there’s still work to be done before the Flames can plan the parade route.

First, the issue of their remaining free agents, both restricted and unrestricted. Some main cogs include Dion Phaneuf, Daymond Langkow, and Kristian Huselius. All three will command a bigger salary, with Phaneuf obviously being the priority. How will Darryl Sutter be able to keep the core together under a budget, especially since Phaneuf will be poached away at a seconds notice.

Second, while it does give their young goalies a chance to develop more and get used to the pro game, how long before they grow stale of the Calgary organization. The Flames have a great young crop of goalies with Leland Irving, Matt Keetley, and Curtis McElhinney. However, they need to be able to showcase these kids in the bigs in order for them to be truly evaluated, but with Kiprusoff’s contract and playing time; it doesn’t seem like they’ll get that time needed. In the end, that could ultimately hurt the Flames should Kiprusoff go down and these guys aren’t ready for the big time.

Third and finally is Kiprusoff living up to the deal. Kipper should be in his prime right now when it comes to age and play, whether or not he’ll still be that way six-years from now is going to be the true test of the strength of this deal. Should Kipper not live up to the deal, there will be plenty of naysayers from Calgary and beyond saying that this was an awful deal and that Darryl Sutter’s genius is slipping. Granted, this is all speculation; but some Calgary sports writers have gone into panic mode very easily—I’m looking at you, Mr. Francis.

Now, the Flames aren’t the only one in this position. The Senators are another prominent team that is in a tight spot when it comes to re-signing the core members of not only their team, but their youth movement. To be able to get under the cap and still great success without distraction is an almost impossible stunt, but can be done.

It’s hard to gauge a long-term deal one or even two years into it. Yet, if it does prove to provide instant success, the other years won’t matter and the deal will be looked at as a total success just due to a quick result. I guess we’ll just have to sit back, grab a pop, and wait and see what happens to Kipper and the Flames.


Ballhype: hype it up!

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