Has Miikka Kiprusoff played his final game with the Flames? Could tonight be Olli Jokinen’s last game with them? Could the Jets be active in this summer’s free agent market? Read on for the latest.
CALGARY HERALD/CALGARY SUN: mused over the possibility goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff may have played his final game with the Flames, noting he’d be arguably their best trade chip if management decides to overhaul the roster this summer. Kiprusoff has two years remaining on his contract – his “no-movement” clause expires on July 1 – and gave no indication he’d like a change, but also added he understood the business side of things if management opted to move him.
CALGARY SUN: Eric Francis reports Olli Jokinen’s agent acknowledged his client has been hampered by a debilitating mid-body injury which could account for his late-season struggles. Francis, however, cited a source who said it was a mild abdominal strain, not something which would hamper his play. Jokinen is a UFA this summer and management has to decide if they’ll re-sign him or look toward a cheaper, younger alternative.
Francis also recently dismissed speculation Flames ownership was meddling in management decisions.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Regarding Kiprusoff, the Flames don’t have to rush out and move him this summer because he’s under contract for two more seasons, unlike team captain Jarome Iginla, who has only one season left and will become a UFA next summer. The Flames could peddle Iginla this summer and retain Kiprusoff.
As for Jokinen, the lack of depth in quality centers this summer on the UFA market means his absence could leave a big hole at center the Flames couldn’t suitably fill. He wants to re-sign with the Flames, but it could come down to how much they’re willing to invest and for how long.
WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets are among the NHL richest teams this season. True North chairman Mark Chipman said the team would stick with its plan of developing their younger players, but wouldn’t rule out going out and signing some talent.
Kirk Penton meanwhile Tim Stapleton, a pending UFA, acknowledged he doesn’t have much control over being re-signed by the Jets, but is hoping he’ll be back.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I’ve said before, the Jets will need to spend if they hope to sufficiently address their needs this summer, which would include adding depth at center. While I don’t expect them to go on a wild spending spree, they cannot maintain the status quo by only making modest signings as they did last summer. They certainly can’t use the excuse they can’t afford it.