Monday, August 27, 2007

Kipper Only Heating Up In Calgary

Miikka Kiprusoff had an off year by his standards (2.46 GAA, .929 SV %), yet he was still a finalist for the Vezina trophy. That should tell you everything about how valuable he is to the Flames organization. It is already a forgone conclusion that Kiprusoff will be starting again for the Flames once the season begins, the only unknown in terms of goaltending will be the backup. There will be an interesting battle for the position come training camp between the 9th overall pick of the 2000 draft, Brent Krahn, and Curtis McElhinney. The two were a tandem in Omaha of the AHL last season, and I myself had a chance to see McElhinney play. Although he had an off night (He lost 5-0), he looked very solid, and many of the goals were not his fault. Krahn has battled injuries throughout his young career, and may now finally see his first chance at making the big club. He's a big kid at 6'5, and takes up a ton of net, but he also moves well. Both have an equal shot at the backup spot, but only one can have it, so expect to see a great battle come training camp.

In terms of goaltending prospects, the Flames are set. Leland Irving, who is on the current "Super Series" roster for Canada, is the heir to Kipper's throne. The kid is a battler, as he has already defeated cancer as a young child, and is now making tremendous strides in the WHL. He is a positional goalie, and a very strong skater. Some scouts are even touting him as the next Brodeur, or Luongo. He's still 19, so expect him to be seasoned in junior and in the minors before making his final jump to the Calgary Flames. The Flames also have a young netminder by the name of Kevin Lelande who played for Belleville of the OHL last season. He is one year older than Irving, but is nowhere near as talented. He put up decent stats, and has some potential, but the goalie Flames fans should be focusing on is Irving.