Iginla, Regehr sign long-term … sorry I doubted you, Darryl.

I’ve made a habit lately of doubting Darryl Sutter’s judgment. It’s not like there hasn’t been ample evidence to back me up: Pre-deadline deals the last two years (Reinprecht and Sauve to Phoenix for Leclerc and Boucher in 2006; Kobasew and Ference for Stuart, Primeau and a pick in 2007) have been failures. The ascension of Jim Playfair was misguided, and the hiring of Mike Keenan as head coach has been criticized in many more reputable locations than Flames Blog.

The past week, however, has restored my faith in the Flames GM. First it was a long, affordable contract for a Top 4 defenceman in Cory Sarich, and a smart, low-risk deal for a second-line winger in Owen Nolan. Today, though, was the masterstroke — the widely reported, below-market-value five-year contracts Sutter was able to secure for the team’s best forward and best defenceman.

Securing Jarome Iginla at $7 million per season and Robyn Regehr at $4 million per is a fantastic accomplishment in this market, ensuring the team’s competitiveness going forward and showing that the Keenan hiring has only motivated an underachieving team. There is absolutely nothing wrong with these deals. Both players are young, widely respected, perfect for the modern game, leaders on the team and catalysts to success. They’re also, clearly, both fiercely loyal — and believe that Sutter has the team’s best interests in mind and under control, Keenan coming in or not.

Presuming Sutter will be able to figure something out for RFA Dion Phaneuf at some point before this time next year, the last (and maybe most important) point of business this summer is getting Miikka Kiprusoff to agree to a deal similar to the Iginla and Regehr pacts — probably at a number somewhere in between. But where I might have been concerned before today, now I’m betting on it. And betting on the Flames battling the resurgent Avalanche for the Northwest Division championship this year, with Kiprusoff being the difference-maker in a competition with still-emerging Av Peter Budaj.

There are still question marks with the Flames, to be sure. On the back end, Adrian Aucoin and Rhett Warrener will need to stay healthy. Keenan will have to figure out a way to mend his relationship with Kristian Huselius and get him to maintain the quality of play he established last year. But if Sutter can convince Iginla and Regehr that Keenan’s the right choice, he’s convinced me, too — for now, of course.

2007-08 just might be a hell of a season.

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~ by duncan on July 4, 2007.

4 Responses to “Iginla, Regehr sign long-term … sorry I doubted you, Darryl.”

  1. Hopefully Kipper gets back from Finland sooner rather than later.

  2. technically, we’ve got all year to re-sign kipps. not that i think we should leave it that long (or will) but there’s three months till the season starts. kipper could feasibly get this signed during camp.

    as for huselius v. keenan, i read that after the signing, juice was keeping an openi mind, saying, “”I’m surprised. But I think that we are both in a different situation now. I had a good season last year. And Keenan is coming to a different organization and a better club.For me its no problem at all. If he just let the players compete on the same conditions, I think this is gonna work out fine.”

    and speaking of juice, why is nobody wondering if HIS contract will be extended ? wait n’ see how 07/08 turns out ? deal’im at the deadline ?

  3. I think Huselius will be a numbers victim. Hopefully we can take advantage of a really contract year from him, because I doubt we’ll be able to re-sign him after next season.

  4. *really good

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