Monday, January 14, 2008

Joseph a Flame

Looks as though the sweepstakes for goaltender Curtis Joseph (non-pool) is over and the winner looks to be the Flames.

After winning the Spengler Cup in Switzerland, the stock of the 40 year-old keeper has gone up significantly. So much so, that there was up to 4 teams looking for his services, although the Sharks had said publicly that they weren't ever in the running.

The reports out of are reading that Joseph signed for this season at an annual rate of $1.5 million, which equates to roughly $650,000 for the remainder of the season. This is a deal which most would consider a bargain, especially if he manages to take the load off of Miikka Kiprusoff (Ryan).

Now, as for the jury deciding whether or not this is the best of moves for the Flames is still out deliberating all the facts, there are some predictions that could be fashioned for this instance.

The short and curly prediction of this affair is we won't see Kiprusoff in Calgary next season. Between: 1) having a second veteran goalie in the line-up, Mike Keenan will be even more likely to pull Kiprusoff during a bad outing; 2) contract negotiations failing between the Flames and Dion Phaneuf (Ryan); 3) the idea of Kristian Huselius (John B.) going to unrestricted free agency; all seems to add up to a major player leaving either before or during the summer.

The likelihood of Kiprusoff of playing better now that he has competition is still quite relevant. I'm sure with the likelihood of being pulled more often and his distaste for being pulled should be motivation enough to play better and not get pulled. Let's not forget, of the four times Kipper has been pulled this season, they all haven't necessarily been his fault. His defense in front of him has given up more times than he has. In essence, for this family to be a happy one, the defense has to play well, the forwards need to score and Kipper will need to play at his best in a reduced number of starts. Then you would see either Phaneuf and/or Huselius exit the team in the summer.

Granted, if it is a matter of the forwards not producing or being the reason of a poor Cup run, you may also see Alex Tanguay (John B.) be on the block, with his $5 million salary for one more year.

Nevertheless, the addition of Joseph to the mix does pose an interesting chemistry question between the goaltending tandem and the coaching staff. Despite Mike Keenan giving Joseph an olive branch to smooth over their own relations, the relations between Keenan and Kiprusoff will have to be treated delicately. A 3-goal deficit in the third period is usually a popular time for Keenan to swap keepers to shake up the team and that might sit well with their number one keeper. It is something to consider.

Mark the record on the calendar... at the time of the signing, the Flames were 22-16-8, 7th in the conference, 2 points behind Minnesota for the division lead.

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