BOSTON – The Calgary Flames aren’t prepared to turn the page on Miikka Kiprusoff just yet.
While the 36-year-old goaltender is thought to have played his final NHL game, Flames general manager Jay Feaster would still like to see him return next season.
“I talked to him last week,” Feaster said Wednesday after the GMs’ meeting. “If we had to ask him to make a decision right now, I think his decision would be what it was kind of at the end of the season — that he’s probably finished.
“It’s still early in the off-season, and so what we talked about is that we’ll be patient and we’ll give him time.”
Kiprusoff has one year remaining on his contract with Calgary for $1.5-million (although his salary cap hit would be $5.83-million).
The former Vezina Trophy winner turned down an opportunity to be dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the trade deadline in early April. However, that request came shortly after the birth of his second child.
Kiprusoff spent the past nine seasons with the Flames, starting at least 70 games in seven of them.
Among the other options in goal for Calgary are former KHL star Karri Ramo — who is expected to sign a deal with the Flames in July — and Reto Berra, the Swiss netminder that was acquired from St. Louis as part of the Jay Bouwmeester deal.
No matter how everything shakes out, Feaster plans to be aggressive as soon as teams start using their compliance buyouts after the Stanley Cup.
“We’re looking at everything right now,” Feaster said. “We have three picks in the first round (of the draft) and we have cap space. I think it’s unique in that we certainly have an ownership group that’s willing to spend to the cap. …
“All of the options are on the table right now.”
Tippett’s future with Coyotes
The clock is ticking on a new contract for Phoenix Coyotes coach Dave Tippett.
Even though both parties have a desire to get one done, the franchise’s uncertain future has kept them from signing off on it.
“I think it’s all tied in with what’s going to happen with the franchise,” GM Don Maloney said. “Really the dollars and cents portion of the contract is, for all intents and purposes, agreed upon. There’s some other language issues we’re working out.
“He’s very important to us and our franchise.”
Tippett’s four-year deal with the Coyotes expires at the end of the month. If an extension isn’t reached by then, Maloney believes other NHL teams would be willing to fire their coach to make room for him.
“I firmly believe that if it got to July there would be more than the remaining one or two jobs that are open right now,” he said.
The uncertain ownership situation has also tied up Maloney’s ability to reach any deals with his free agents.
Those include goaltender Mike Smith, who is due for a big raise on his current $2-million deal. The Coyotes have held some preliminary talks with agent Kurt Overhardt.
“We have regular dialogue,” Maloney said.
Penguins look to lock up Letang
With Evgeni Malkin’s contract completed, the Pittsburgh Penguins have turned their attention to defenceman Kris Letang.
Penguins GM Ray Shero met with agent Kent Hughes on Wednesday morning to discuss an extension for Letang that would kick in at the end of next season. He added that they have started to kick around some numbers.
“I think we’ll just continue to talk over the next little while,” Shero said. “He was a very valuable player for our team. Ideally, I’d like to sign him and get him extended, but we’ll see where that goes over the next few days and weekend.”
Shero also sat down with Letang last week and believes the 26-year-old would like to stay in Pittsburgh. However, as a potential unrestricted free agent, Letang might be able to fetch more money from another team than the Penguins can afford to pay him next summer.
“I just want to try and get a deal that works for us and for him,” Shero said.
There is plenty of intrigue building for the June 30 entry draft, especially with Colorado Avalanche vice-president Joe Sakic telling the Denver Post this week that they likely won’t take Seth Jones at No. 1.
It was a fairly unusual comment from an executive with a team holding the top selection and rival general managers weren’t too sure what to make of it.
The Florida Panthers hold the No. 2 pick while Tampa Bay is slated to pick third overall. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman indicated that he is willing to move up if a trade presents itself.
“I don’t want to box myself in to saying anything,” Yzerman said. “We’re quite comfortable with the third pick and remaining there, but we’re open to any scenario that we think makes us a better organization.”
He may also use one of the two compliance buyouts at his disposal. There has been speculation that Vincent Lecavalier could be a candidate for one and Yzerman wouldn’t rule out the possibility of buying out a contract.
“It’s something to consider,” he said. “Given that we finished in 28th place we’re obligated and should be looking at every possibility of improving our team. Other than that I really can’t say much.”
Who will be the Stars next coach?
Jim Nill’s search for a new coach for the Dallas Stars is proceeding slowly.
After pursuing Alain Vigneault and seeing him land with the New York Rangers, Nill continues to survey his options. There is no deadline on his decision.
“There’s too many good candidates out there and I want it to be the right decision,” Nill said.