Miikka Kiprusoff was born in Turko Finland in October of 1976. He was just rewarded, for his 31st birthday, with a $35 million dollar contract over the next 6 years.
That's quite a lot of money for a player who: hasn't played in 250 games yet, hasn't won more than 125 wins in the regular season, and hasn't won a Stanley Cup. But see the problem is, Vezina winning goalies don't grow on trees.
In the past ten seasons, only 5 goalies have collected the trophy. Now, winning the Vezina does not make you one of the greatest goalies to play the game for years to come; look at Jim Carey. But that being said, the numbers which Kipper has put up in his tenure here do put him in a class with players like Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo (he will win eventually). The real question is not whether the money was deserved now, but rather in the later years of the contract.
In Calgary, there is a goaltending prospect named Leland Irving, currently playing with the Everett Silvertips of the WHL, who is slated to step into the Kipper's shoes when the time is right. But that timeline is now a little fuzzy. Next year, Irving will be ready to make the jump to the AHL at the age of 20. How many years of seasoning will he need? Ryan Miller of the Sabres, played 3 years at Michigan State and 3 years for the Sabres farm team in Rochester before being ready for the NHL and moving into the starter's role. He was 25.
Leland Irving however will not be attending a post secondary institute. After three years in the minors, he will only be 23, but hopefully ready to learn from a 35 year old goaltender by riding the pine in Calgary. That leaves 3 years left on Miikka's contract at a cap hit of $5.8 million per season. So when Kipper is in the last couple of years of his contract, and the torch is hopefully ready to be passed, let's hope that he is still playing well, and the Flames will be faced with the problem of deciding when Irving is ready, and not the problem of finding a team to take a lead weight off of their hands. But for now, we can rejoice in knowing that Sutter has done his job and taken one more step in locking up all the important parts of this team.
Just my take though.