Stopping pucks to make big bucks

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:30 AM ET

So, apparently Miikka Kiprusoff and his agent are looking for a Jarome Iginla contract.

That would be US$35 million over five years.

Did anybody out there think the Calgary Flames goalie and his camp would be eyeing significantly less?

Really?

Sure, it would be nice to expect Kiprusoff to take a hometown discount -- a huge one -- but it can't be expected. Remember, his next contract will be his truly huge payday. That's not to say the three-year, US$10-million deal he's currently playing on that expires at the end of this season is not a huge contract, it just isn't the massive one-time deal he's staring at.

Iginla and Robyn Regehr (US$20 million over five years) signed long-term deals for less than they would have garnered on the open market next summer, but Kiprusoff is under no obligation to do the same.

Besides, with the way salary stupidity takes over the world on Canada Day, what's to say those exact terms aren't significantly less than market value. Remember, just before the lockout, there were goaltenders being paid US$8 million a year.

To a man, Kiprusoff's teammates don't see the expectations as out of whack.

"He's a guy you build a team around," said defenceman Cory Sarich.

"Ask 29 other GMs in the league," added centre Craig Conroy. "Maybe New Jersey and Vancouver would say they're happy with their goalie, but I'd guess every other GM would want him."

Kiprusoff is done talking, while Flames GM Darryl Sutter refuses to discuss contract negotiations.

"I'm done talking about that. Now it's between my agent and Darryl," Kiprusoff said.

Asking a prominent agent if he felt such a figure for Kiprusoff was off-base, he pointed out recent deals for high-level goaltenders, Roberto Luongo and Nikolai Khabibulin.

Prior to last season, Luongo signed a four-year, US$27-million contract while a restricted free agent. Khabibulin followed his Stanley Cup-winning season in Tampa Bay by inking the exact same deal with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Is it realistic to think Kiprusoff would ask for less?

From the Flames' perspective, an ideal salary to copy would be Martin Brodeur and his deal that averages US$5.2 million. But that was indeed a hometown discount meant to keep players in the Devils fold and a deal both he and the team had to know would be above his value near the end. Brodeur is only 35 years old and signed through the 2011-12 season.

That's not to say Kiprusoff won't sign for less.

The Flames may very well already be in the same ballpark for a salary number but looking at a shorter term.

About to turn 31, he's certainly not over the hill and realistically could be a top-tier 'tender for five more years.

But very few netminders are able to spin that trick.

In a few years, Kiprusoff may not be on top of his game because of the wear and tear of playing 75 games a season.

That's hard to predict but understandable if the Flames are thinking a three-year deal would be more to their liking.

Possibly, Kiprusoff will feel an extra bit of loyalty to the Flames for being the team that pulled him out of the press box while he was still part of the San Jose Sharks. Certainly it's an interesting tight-rope for Sutter.

Also, between now and July 1, 2008, he'll be looking into the status of pending restricted free agent Dion Phaneuf -- it's a good bet he'll be handed an offer sheet by some team if he gets to Canada Day without a new deal -- as well as Daymond Langkow and Kristian Huselius.

One certainty is Kiprusoff remains under contract through this season, so it isn't time to push a panic button.

"They're talking" Conroy said. "I don't see it as a distraction. If anything, Kipper will be saying, 'I'll show you I'm worth $7 million.' "


Videos

Photos