Thursday, November 8, 2007

Flames sign Miikka Kiprusoff to 6-year contract extension

Since I had concentrated on writing the Prudential Center story and had some other personal matters to take care of, now I have to play catch up on some hockey stories from the last two weeks. So bear with me if I'm a little behind in the timing of this one and a few more here.

Remember when Miikka Kiprusoff was a backup goaltender in San Jose earlier in his career and most hockey observers didn't know much about him? Who knows how he would've fared and how the team's fortunes would've gone had he remained a Shark, but his status around the National Hockey League took off when he arrived in Calgary on November 16, 2003. At the time, he was only worth a 2005 second round draft pick in return. Go figure.

As the Sharks' 116th overall draft pick in 1995, Kiprusoff was 15-22-3 in his NHL career prior to the trade (including a 1-1 postseason record). That changed in a big way after he became the Flames' full-time starter and posted 126-73-4 record (including 20-19 in the playoffs). He helped get Calgary all the way to the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals and was one win away from a championship. Kiprusoff captured the 2006 Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goaltender, too.

Even though the Flames haven't gotten another chance yet to win the Stanley Cup title, the team decided to make sure he didn't make it to free agency next summer. The 31-year-old Kiprusoff signed a six-year, $35 million contract extension on October 29th to remain with the organization through the 2013-2014 season.

Calgary's priorities is to get their core players locked up and provide a sign the team is committed to winning. Kiprusoff, Jarome Iginla and Robyn Regehr are those the Flames took care of to ensure that. Kiprusoff has definitely earned his raise, but will have to work his magic between the pipes again this season if Calgary wants to go deep into the postseason again. His role could shape the Western Conference standings this season. The kind of job security he was just given is a strong indicator of the Flames' commitment he's the impact player they cannot afford to lose.

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