Calgary Flames and Miikka Kiprusoff Spin Cautionary Tale of the No-Trade Clause

Franklin Steele@FranklinSteeleAnalyst IIApril 3, 2013

DALLAS, TX - MARCH 24:  Miikka Kiprusoff #34 of the Calgary Flames at American Airlines Center on March 24, 2012 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Darren Dreger of TSN reported this morning that Calgary Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff is going to finish the season and likely retire, stripping the suddenly rebuilding team of another valuable trade asset.

The team had reportedly given the Toronto Maple Leafs permission to speak with Kipper's agent in an attempt to lay the groundwork for a deal between the two teams. Now all the speculation seems for naught, as the goalie with a no-trade clause hammer has all but stomped out any possible deal.

Why Kipper is doing this makes perfect sense. His wife recently gave birth to a premature child, and if you believe former coach Mike Keenan, it was always the plan to have the goalie retire before the last year of his contract anyway.

So I don't begrudge Kiprusoff one bit for wielding the no-trade clause that he has in Calgary. That's his right. It's in the contract. But therein lies the rub. And therein lies my point.

This is what happens when you load up a team with no-trade and no-movement clauses. All of a sudden, the assets that you pay millions and millions of dollars to aren't really under control anymore. Calgary could have landed some rock-solid assets for Jarome Iginla if they had been allowed to trade with the Boston Bruins. Those assets would have come in the form of Alexander Khokhlachev, Matt Bartowski and a first-round selection.

Khokhlachev in particular would have been a nice add for the rebuilding Flames. The prospect put up 48 points in 29 games for the Windsor Spitfires this season, acclimating himself well to the North American game.

Instead, Iginla used his no-trade clause to land himself in Pittsburgh for two college players who project as third- or fourth-line contributors at best.

Perhaps calling this a rebuild is too kind then. Instead of GM Jay Feaster being able to make the moves that he wants, he is stuck making phone calls to agents to ask for permission. No, this isn't a rebuild.

This is a surrender.

And all of this could have been avoided with a more careful application of the NTC. Of course these clauses aren't going to fade into the background anytime soon. When the Anaheim Ducks re-signed Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry to multi-year, multi-million dollar deals, they blessed each contract with the no-trade clause.

This might make sense for the first two or three years of a deal, when everything is working out. But what happens when things hit the fan and the team starts looking to make some changes to improve? To divorce itself from aging, underperforming assets a few years down the road, the Ducks too are going to have to ask for permission to make the moves they feel are best moving forward.

Typically players will jump at the chance to sell their ticket on the Titanic. But every once in a while a guy just wants to stay put, despite how messy that can make things for the team he plays for.

The ongoing Roberto Luongo saga is another great example of how a no-trade clause can clog the trade pipes and stink up the trade winds. Do you think there's a chance in hell Luongo would have played a single game for the Vancouver Canucks this season if he didn't have a no-trade clause?

He would have been put on a lift and rotated out of town for the best possible deal over the summer, and the Canucks could have gone on with their season without this distraction. Instead, they were stuck making phone calls to the Florida Panthers, who have absolutely zero need for a goalie.

They could be ironing out the details on a deal with the Phoenix Coyotes with Mike Smith and Keith Yandle coming back for Luongo. Instead they are talking to Toronto about Clarke MacArthur. Before that, they were asking about Tyler Bozak.

Not exactly the kind of players one would expect to be attached to a deal for a 33-year-old franchise netminder with at least three or four more good years in the tank. But who they end up trading Luongo for isn't in the hands of management.

Instead, it's up to the player. And that isn't how you get the most bang for your buck in the NHL these days. That isn't how you build a champion.