Former T-Blades goalie inks $35 million deal

CALGARY, Alberta -- Former Kentucky Thoroughblades netminder Miikka Kiprusoff agreed to a $35-million, six-year extension with the Flames on Monday that will keep the star goalie in Calgary through the 2013-14 season.

The 2006 Vezina Trophy winner, who would have been an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, was the last of a core of key players -- along with Captain Jarome Iginla and defenseman Robyn Regehr -- to recently agree to long-term deals with Calgary.

"It's important for the fans and the players to see that we have star players on our team and not just one. We have a number of them," general manager Darryl Sutter said. "It's their responsibility once they sign long-term contracts to continue to be top players and continue to have a top team."

The 31-year-old Finn is in the final year of a deal that will pay him $3.6 million this season. The new deal will put him in a league with Vancouver's Roberto Luongo ($6.5 million this season) and New Jersey's Martin Brodeur ($5.2 million).

"I think he's going into the best years of his career," Sutter said Monday. "He hasn't played much hockey, to be quite honest. If you see how it's structured and laid out, it works well for him and works well for us."

Sutter said a goaltender's best years are between 28 and 35 and he expects Kiprusoff to continue to be the difference-maker for the Flames for years to come.

"You don't get paid for past performances," Sutter said. "He's going into his prime in the next three or four years. I don't see anyone who is going to replace him in that time."

The Flames acquired Kiprusoff from the San Jose Sharks for a second-round draft pick in November 2003. He's 111-54-23 with four ties for the Flames.

Kiprusoff helped Calgary reach the Stanley Cup final in 2004, where the Flames lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games.

"I would like to thank the Calgary Flames' owners for making this long-term commitment to me and my family so we can remain in this city and be part of this organization," Kiprusoff said in a statement. "I look forward to the responsibility and challenge that comes with this contract.

"Calgary is a loyal hockey community that expects and deserves the very best from its home team."

In 244 games with Calgary and San Jose, Kiprusoff is 125-78-23 with seven ties.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press


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