Trade Kiprusoff

Calgary Flames v Washington Capitals


As we’ve established, the Flames will have to start making some hard decisions about their "cornerstone players" over the next year or two. The position of the organization is well known by this time: limited cap space, aging assets, a general lack of quality prospects. I’ve already made a case that Iginla is a poor bet to provide value for his contract as he ages. If the team is unable – or unwilling – to move the face of the franchise, Kipper might be the next best asset to put on the auction block. 

I made a similar post last year, except my argument was predicated on Kipper’s apparent decline. He rebounded this year and was one of the club’s bigger difference makers (not that it mattered much), but the truth is he’s still drifting away from his peak years and is now ensconced in the large middle class of puck stoppers in the league. Tom Awad of Puck Prospectus recently ran a study in which he ranked the NHL’s top goaltenders over the last 3 seasons. Kipper finished 30th, well back of the elite guys, but still ahead of the bottom of the barrel. The math and assumptions in Awad’s piece are complex to say the least, so I’ll make the point in simpler fashion. 

There are six upcoming UFA goalies who would be worth a look to any teams looking for goaltending this off-season: Marty Turco, Evgeni Nabokov, Jose Theodore, Chris Mason, Dan Ellis and Martin Biron. Their expected salaries run from about $1m to $4.5M I’d say. 

Player               Year 1     Year 2     Year 3       Average

Goalie X           .927         .918         .911            .919

Goalie Y           .919         .907         .928            .918

One of these tenders is a guy I chose at random from the free agent list. The other guy is Miikka Kiprusoff. That their average ES SV% happened to be about equal over the last 3 years happened to be a fortunate coincidence given the thrust of the article. But it’s also a symptom of the quality of goaltending in the NHL and how most ‘tenders are basically interchangeable once you get beyond the likes of Tomas Vokoun and Jonas Hiller.  

Here’s an even more stark illustration:   

As you can see, there isn’t a lot separating these guys. The yearly averages (.919-.921) were tightly bunched around the overall mean (.919). Not one goalie dipped below .900, with the basement being in the .907 range while none of them peaked above .930 either. Kipper hit both the floor and ceiling in this sample, but so did Mason, Turco, Biron, etc. to greater or lesser degrees. Again, if we X’ed out the names and jumbled the ordering somewhat, my guess is most readers wouldn’t be able to pick Kipper from Dan Ellis (or Chris Mason or Marty Biron). That’s a significant issue when you’re paying $5.83M per season for goaltending.

Some caveats apply, obviously. Dan Ellis and Nabokov look like the best puck stoppers through this exercise, but the former faced probably the fewest amount of shots in the group while the latter played for probably the best team. While I don’t see a huge team effect here, there’s a good chance that playing for the Sharks the last 3 seasons was at least not detrimental to the ol’ SV%.

Also, I used ES SV% because short handed SV% (which is included in overall SV%) can skew things to a non-trivial degree. It depends on how often the team in front of a guy takes penalties (particularly 5on3’s), how good they are at penalty killing and just plain old dumb luck considering how much a couple of goals can swing a save rate (given the relatively low amount of PP shots a goalie will face in a season). ES SV% is therefore more stable and probably more indicative of a goalies true ability.  

Trading Kiprusoff could serve two functions: firstly, to free up cap space and secondly to leverage his previous accomplishments (as well as his recent rebound) to acquire a valuable asset or two in return. In the first, one could probably replace Kipper’s contributions with two of the "lesser name" guys from the list above and still save money. For example, $3m for Chris Mason and $1M for Dan Ellis and you have yourself redundancy in net (eliminating the now annual panic in February about acquiring a capable back-up) and almost $2M in cap savings. You also have increased cap flexibility. 

The second issue is obviously a much bigger question mark. The goalie trade market is notoriously tough due to limited demand. In addition, Kiprusoff owns a NTC and could therefore veto any trade he found dissatisfying. That said, if, for example, the Flyers come knocking in the off-season, I think it would behoove the Flames to listen to what they have to say very carefully.  

  • I’d like somebody cheap as well (2M range per goalie if we can swing it) to tend nets for the Flames. Mason and Ellis for a $4M tandem? Sounds good to me! I don’t even think Mason could swing a $3M contract.

    I really hate the goaltending position. It’s such a volatile thing, puck stopping rate, it seems wiser to pour more money into offense.

    You know what they say though, defense wins championships! Hyuk hyuk. As if.

    You’re going to get a barrage of stupid imminently, I think. from people who wouldn’t trade Kiprusoff for anybody, except maybe Malkin.

  • Oyo

    i highly doubt montreal would be where they are without DEFENSE and GOALTENDING. yes they scored timely goals but first and formost the shut down the top forwards in the game. thats how they won.
    im not saying defense does win championships but it is a key role. period.

    as for kipper…. i dont think anyone can argue he was the flames’ best player this year and kept us in games we had no business being in. with that said i think he is still top 10 b/c the poor guy had no offensive help. the puck was in the flames end ALOT this season, because we had virtually no offense. the offense needs to be upgraded! yes. but giving up our best player of last year?????

    if we are going to trade him it has to be a plyer who can handle the starting role and be ready to steal 1 goal games. Ellis might have decent stats but as you said he is a backup….im more then willing to see who we could bring in to free up cap space, if thats what has to be done BUT i think we need to dump the dead weight of our top 9. (i love calgarys 4th line).
    that would free up cap space and if we need to move a big player i think it should be regher cuz he is getting older and might be to slow to keep up with the chicagos of the world. i dontthink anyone wouldnt want an olympic caliber defensemen on their top 4. good trade bait i think. (i know he has a NTC)

  • One thing too Kent: last off-season I don’t think we could have given Kiprusoff away. What with two years of mediocrity putting into question his ability to stop pucks at an above-average rate.

    So this kind of season, a year where pucks hit him… this is exactly the kind of good break we needed right?

    I mean nobody reasonable amongst us would bet his or her money on Kiprusoff having another above average season next year. It’s an even-odds bet at best, I think, and only fools bet on coin flips expecting a positive return.

    In other words: sell high, because the odds are good he’ll be useless to us next year.

  • @ R O – yeah, his rebound makes him highly sellable again.

    I suspect Luc’s right though – Sutter won’t move Kipper for love nor money. Of course, I thought the same thing about Phaneuf, so who knows.

  • SO, I don’t see how we could get Dan Ellis for 1 million as season, considering he made 2 million last season and was pretty solid and is now a UFA. I see him more in the 4-5 million dollar range. As for Chris Mason, I don’t see St Louis letting him go. I say we stick with Kipper and address some of our under-performing forwards. Trim the fat

  • Dan Ellis played 31 games last year and won 15 of them. he finished with a .909 SV% and was usurped by Pekka Rinne. He’s also 30 years old and has never played more than 45 games in a season.

    Anyone who pays Ellis $5M/year, especially with the lack of demand and glut of supply on the market, should not only be fired but publicly flogged. Ellis be lucky to get half that number.

  • Balthazar

    @ R O

    Dude. Do you really have to go straight to using perjoratives on other posters? I mean, “Stupid” and “Fool”? Really? I thought that vitriol was saved for Daz and other professionals.

    @ Kent

    Is now the time to trade Kipper? Probably… but can Daz do it? Can he get the right return? I won’t hold my breath.

    Does he have a strategy? I’m willing to bet his strategy is to Hold On for 2010-2011 with small tweaks, hope for a resurgance (apparenty in the record at Home), and believe “it” can happen if only the Flames get into the playoffs.

    Also, I think the challenge in the trade market is that very few teams think they have to pay that much for a #1 goalie. Their #1 has to be good, but not $6M worth of good. Is there a buyer out there?

  • Balthazar


    How do you feel about Carey Price? Office chat has suggested he might be a good Number 1 option for Calgary, in replacement of Kiprusoff. I still feel trading him for better forwards and cheaper goalies is the best option we have. Barring the release of Kotalik and Sarich, that is.

  • “Dan Ellis played 31 games last year and won 15 of them. he finished with a .909 SV% and was usurped by Pekka Rinne. He’s also 30 years old and has never played more than 45 games in a season.”

    Sorry, my bad, you’re right. And he sounds like just the type of guy Sutter would be after, except he’s not from the prairies. So, with my theory of St Louis re-signing Chris Mason, Lets trade Kipper and put our faith in Dan Ellis, he’s our man!!(slight sarcasm intended)

    • I know nuance is difficult in these situation, so I’ll try again…the point of the post wasn’t “Ellis is the man!”. The point was Kipper is amongst a median level of goaltender, meaning his contributions should be relatively easy to replace and at a cheaper price. If Mason + Ellis isn’t available, maybe the Flames can trade for Harding and sign Biron. Maybe they can sign Theodore at a discount and sign Conklin. The overarching point is there’s tons of these guys so it doesn’t make sense to spend 5.83M a year on a single guy and then hope he doesn’t get hurt because you can’t sign a replacement level goaltender to back him up. The current arrangement has the Flames paying too much given the current goalie market and it leaves them exposed to significant injury risk to boot. It’s inefficient and the club needs to start looking to up their efficiency given their middling results and bloated budget.

      Now, maybe there’s no market for Kipper. And maybe he won’t accept a trade anywhere else and all this is moot. I don’t know these things, so I just operate with the stuff I do know.

  • There are two issues I have with the ‘trade Kipper’ idea:

    Issue the firste: as you mentioned, the goaltender market isn’t exactly red-hot right now, particularly with Florida being overt about their willingness to move Vokoun, as well as Montreal trying to dump Price. Vokoun is, well, Vokoun, and Price may not be as solid as Kipper right now, but he’s also a hell of a lot younger and still shows a lot of promise.

    Issue the seconde: if the Flames do make another run to the finals, what are we going to replace “shirts off for Kiprusoff” with as the catchiest post-game Red Mile chant?

  • George.T.

    I just think that with or without Kipper, we aren’t going anywhere until we address the offence. I’m pretty sure that his stock wont get any higher, so why not get the most out of him. Personally I think we can get a first from him, as well as a first for Iggy. Lets put feelings aside and do what’s best for the future.
    Lets get young and fast!!

    p.s. the backend is too slow, meaning Sarich, and Reggy should go.

    Oh and a bag of pucks and first class all incl. to Vegas for Kotalik…hmm maybe that’s too much?

  • I hate these debates…because my head points me one way, and the heart points me another.

    Fact of the matter is, trading Kiprusoff should be ruled out, because if it was the right deal, it would help this team.

    The points made are valid…in that, going with two goalies at a lower price has worked. Montreal and Philly are both there with similar situations.

    If Calgary were to go in the direction of trading a piece of this core group, I certainly hope there is nothing ruled out for the sake of ruling things out.

  • Rod and MF, I see you have made it your personal mission to pollute the Flames blog roll with your simple-minded hockey “analysis” (emphasis on anal, because it is crap) and internet hijinks.

    It is working. And it is not good.

  • I think we need to be careful this season on who we show the door to. With so many ?’s on offense and a few aging back-enders, moving Kipper might not be in our best interest until 2011-12. I don’t mind trading for cap space or even a few top end picks or prospects, but until we figure out the mess our beloved Dutter has put us into with contracts like Kots, Staj, Staios and a few others we best hold on to some quality until the fat lady has finally sung.

    • The counter to that is: if the team is so lacking in quality already, why not move some of the older quality while value is high (Kipper) to get a younger guy or two who can help the team rebound in a couple of seasons? I don’t see much point in keeping Kipper around ’til the end of his contract, letting the team fail in front of him, and then having him walk as a FA.

      Also lol @ R O, making enemies on the regular.

  • Graham

    I’m in the camp that we need to move one or more of the big contracts; Kipper, Iggy, Langkow, Sarich or Regehr just to free up cap space. As things stand, we are looking at roughly $3 million in cap space to sign 5 – 6
    players, including a backup goalie. This means 5-6 players at the NHL minimum, and no money to resign White, Nystrom….

    Mismanagement of the salary cap, adding Staos
    ($2+million), resigning Stajan at $3.5 million,
    adding Kotalik for two years at $3 million per, is my biggest beef with the GM. He makes a point of saying moving Phaneuf and Jokinen would free up cap space / give the team flexibility in the off season – and he blows the cap space on… Staos, Kotalik etc.

    Stajan was a UFA this season, no other team would be offering him $3.5 million per, so why on earth would you trade for him. Sign him as a free agent, and move Phaneuf for prospects / picks.

    Moving Kipper would make sense, his trade value
    has risen due to his great year, but I would only move Kipper and or Iggy if we are going into a rebuilding mode.

    Given that our GM thinks we are still an elite team, I don’t see it happening

  • orange chair

    How come Regher is never in trade talks? Or at least not as much as Kipper and Iggy. For the price that the Flames pay for him he delivers little. Again comparing him to Kipper and Iggy. Clearly a tougher deal to make. Many more teams would take Kipper or Iggy than would take Regher. It seems he is very difficult to be partnered with. His passing is awful and difficult if not impossible for people to catch. The first pass out of the defensive zone is crucial and Regeher makes it too hard to convert the next pass, make a play or even catch.