Kiprusoff’s start tonight might be last in Calgary

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Miikka Kiprusoff, 36, isn’t hiding the fact that he might retire at the end of the 2013 campaign. If this is his final season, it’s an unfortunate way to end his career.

The Calgary Flames are focused on getting younger as they close out their fourth consecutive season without a playoff berth, but this campaign has also been rough for Kiprusoff specifically. He has a 3.60 GAA and .872 save percentage in 21 starts, which puts him at the bottom of both categories among goaltenders that qualify.

Lately he has even lost the starting job to Joey MacDonald, who the Calgary Flames originally picked up on waivers.

“Mac (Joey MacDonald) has been red-hot,” Kiprusoff reasoned in a Calgary Herald report. “He’s playing so well. They don’t want to change the goalie that’s playing that well. But I’m getting my chance (tonight) and I’ll try to do my best.”

The Finnish goaltender is starting against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday. After this match, Calgary will play in their last home game on Friday and given how the netminding duties have been allocated lately, it’s very possible that this will be Kiprusoff’s final start in the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Regardless of what happens, if he decides to hang up his skates this summer Kiprusoff will be bringing an end to a storied career.

He was a late bloomer, not really finding his way in the NHL until his breakout 2003-04 campaign. He led the Calgary Flames into the playoffs that season and, as the sixth seed, took them as far as Game 7 of the finals. That’s as close as he ever got to winning the Stanley Cup.

Even still, he’s been a workhorse and ranks 23rd in the NHL all-time list with 317 wins. He had a career-high 10 shutouts in 2005-06 en route to winning the Vezina Trophy.

“Was he perfect? No. Nobody is,” former goaltending coach David Marcoux said. “But he brought it all to his hockey club and was accountable to his teammates. You ask anybody from 2003 to today ‘Do you trust Miikka Kiprusoff?’ and the answer would be unanimous.”

Report: Blue Jackets RFA Anderson in contact with Hockey Canada about 2018 Olympics

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The preseason is well underway and Josh Anderson is still without a contract.

Anderson, who scored 17 goals and 29 points last season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, is one of two remaining restricted free agents without a new deal. The other is Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings.

While there were reports this summer about Athanasiou potentially going to the KHL for this season, John Shannon of Sportsnet reported on Thursday that Anderson’s representatives have reached out to Hockey Canada’s staff about the 2018 Olympics. 

Anderson’s entry-level contract, with an AAV of just over $894,000, expired at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, here is the latest on this ongoing contract situation.

Making an impression: Sergachev has ‘NHL written all over him’

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Mikhail Sergachev has, over the summer, stated his belief he can play in the NHL this season.

He had a small taste of NHL action last season, appearing in four games for Montreal — the team that selected him ninth overall in 2016 — before getting sent back to junior and then being traded in June to Tampa Bay, as part of a blockbuster involving Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

Well, Sergachev made a statement Wednesday in his preseason debut for the Lightning.

He scored once. He also played more than 22 minutes, which led all Lightning players on the night. That included time on the power play and penalty kill. If he was looking to make a favorable impression, to show that he belongs at the NHL level when the regular season begins, this seems to be another step in that direction.

“You watch this kid skate, shoot, stickhandle, he’s got NHL written all over him,” Tampa Bay’s associate coach Rick Bowness told the Tampa Bay Times. “Now we’ve got to give him experience. How much can he handle?”

There is competition on the blue line, with eight defensemen under contract in Tampa Bay for this season. That includes Sergachev, who is still only 19 years old. After getting sent back to junior last season, he recorded 43 points in 50 games with Windsor and then won the Memorial Cup that spring. That said, he’s made it a point of saying going back to junior “is not an option” for him.

Related:

Looking to make the leap: Mikhail Sergachev

Report: Lupul will have ‘independent medical exam’

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Joffrey Lupul issued a statement Wednesday, saying he wouldn’t seek a second medical opinion after the Maple Leafs announced he didn’t pass his training camp physical.

A day later, reports have surfaced that the 33-year-old forward will, in fact, undergo another, independent medical test.

That is according to James Mirtle of The Athletic:

Earlier this week, Lupul made accusations against the Maple Leafs on Instagram.

“I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per a screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”

Lupul, who didn’t pass his physical for a second year in a row, issued an apology yesterday. But those comments — which have since been deleted — seem to have grabbed the attention of the league.

Darren Dreger of TSN added to that, saying it’s the NHL pursuing a second medical opinion on this matter.

“The National Hockey League has that right to pursue the second opinion. That’s exactly what they’re engaging in right now,” Dreger reported Thursday.

“The reasoning behind it is because of the comment that Lupul made on social media. I’ll go back a year ago. The league didn’t step in a year ago but Lupul stayed quiet at that point. So they want to make sure — ‘They’ being the National Hockey League — that the medical evaluation from the Toronto Maple Leafs is 100 per cent above the board.”

Team USA won’t include NHL draft-eligible prospects at 2018 Olympics

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) General manager Jim Johannson has ruled out the possibility of the U.S. men’s hockey team having NHL draft-eligible prospects competing at the Winter Olympics in February.

Johannson tells The Associated Press he doesn’t view anyone from the 18-and-younger pool of prospects capable of cracking the projected lineup of non-NHL players, many of whom are opening this season playing in Europe.

USA Hockey’s assistant executive director says he’s also targeting a number of established college players, and would not rule out keeping a spot or two open for members of the U.S. team competing at the World Junior Championships this winter.

Johansson spoke in Buffalo, New York, on Thursday, where he is attending USA Hockey’s sixth annual All-American Prospects game. The game features the top 42 U.S.-born players eligible to be selected in the NHL draft in June.