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.  

  • 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.

  • 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)

  • 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.