The Calgary Flames thought they had great goaltending prospects many times. Do they finally have their goalie of the future?
The Calgary Flames acquired Miikka Kiprusoff from the San Jose Sharks in 2003 for a conditional pick that turned into a second rounder. He immediately helped the team go on a run to the Stanley Cup Final and the Flames figured they had their starting goaltender for the next decade.
As it turned out, they did have a terrific netminder until the Finnish product retired in 2013. He was an absolute workhouse during that time, playing over 70 games for seven consecutive seasons.
Eventually, the Flames were going to have to find their next “goaltender of the future” but they were in no rush when Kiprusoff was receiving Vezina votes on an annual basis.
But, as Kiprusoff got older, and then after he retired, the Flames were increasingly desperate for a goalie of the future. They sure thought they had found him in the past, but it never panned out the way they expected it to. Dating way back to 2006, when Kiprusoff still had lots of tread on the tires, the Flames selected Leland Irving in the first round.
It was expected they could take their time developing their new goaltending prospect. Two more years in Junior, before a few seasons as a started in the AHL, then a couple years as the apprentice under Kiprusoff would have Irving ready for stardom.
Right? Uhh, no, Wrong.
Irving did play two more Junior seasons after being drafted, but his late season with the Everett Silvertips was his worst in the WHL. He played a decent first pro season with the Quad City Flames but it was downhill from there. He played four mediocre seasons with the Abbotsford Heat after that and sprinkled in 13 appearances with the Flames that resulted in a 3.25 goals-against average.
By the time Kiprusoff retired in 2013, his heir apparent was heading to Finland as well to play in Liiga.