Getting a lucrative six-year contract extension from Calgary Flames general manager Darryl Sutter is a banner day. Getting six years, $35-million and compliments is even more reason to celebrate.
Miikka Kiprusoff took it all in yesterday when the Flames announced they had signed their Finnish goaltender to a multiyear extension that will keep him in Calgary until 2014.
According to reports, the first five years of the deal will pay Kiprusoff an average of $6.7-million. The final year will pay him $1.5-million. That works out to an average salary-cap hit of $5.8-million. As a comparison, Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks will make $6.75-million a year until 2010.
"One of the top three goalies in the league? He is," Sutter said of Kiprusoff. "That's not just opinion, it's fact. … He just turned 31. The best years [for a goaltender]are 28 to 35. Clearly, his best years are in front of him. In this world, unlike what you say or hear, you don't get paid for past performances."
Kiprusoff, who was making $3.6-million and en route to unrestricted free agency, was unavailable to the media yesterday, but had expressed his wishes to stay with the Flames. It was Sutter who recognized Kiprusoff's abilities while the two were members of the San Jose Sharks. When Sutter took over the Flames, he traded away a second-round draft pick for Kiprusoff in 2003 and has never had cause to complain.
In 2004, Kiprusoff helped Calgary advance to the seventh game of the Stanley Cup final against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Two seasons ago, he won the Vézina Trophy as the NHL's top goalie. This year, despite some sluggish moments, Kiprusoff has played in every game and has a 5-3-3 record and 3.15 goals-against average.
Sutter has now locked up three important members of his team. Captain Jarome Iginla recently agreed to a five-year extension worth $35-million, while defenceman Robyn Regehr signed for $20-million over five years. Left to sign are forwards Daymond Langkow and Kristian Huselius, both of whom are piling up the points this season and are slated for unrestricted free agency.
Then there's defenceman Dion Phaneuf, the hard-hitting favourite, who has already scored three goals and six assists in 11 games. He's in the final year of his entry-level contract and earning $785,333.
"We want to be able to show your fans and your team that the top players are here for a long time," Sutter told reporters. "Dion's deadline [as a Group II restricted free agent]is July 1. … We haven't been against negotiating with players at any point."
Kiprusoff is the Flames' franchise leader in shutouts, 21, and will soon play in his 200th regular-season game, which will put him fifth in franchise history.
In a statement released by the Flames, Kiprusoff said he looked forward "to the responsibility and challenge that comes with this contract." First up: tonight's game against the visiting Nashville Predators.