Trade Revisited: Vlasic for Kiprusoff

The Background of the Marc-Edouard Vlasic Trade

Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Marc-Edouard Vlasic (Ivanmakarov,

Throughout most of his career in San Jose, Miikka Kiprusoff lurked in the shadow of Evgeni Nabokov in the Sharks’ crease. During his tenure, the Finnish netminder never started more than 22 games in teal in a single season and held inconsistent numbers over the course of his three years with the club. After posting a .915 save percentage in the 2001-2002 campaign, he challenged his Russian counterpart for the starting role the following season. Unfortunately, his numbers were atrocious. In 22 games, Kiprusoff recorded a 5-14-0 record, an .879 save percentage, and a 3.25 goals against average. Not only did he lose his chance to become the number one goaltender in San Jose, but he was also eventually beat out by Vesa Toskala for the backup role. There didn’t seem to be a job available for Kipper in a Sharks’ uniform. San Jose traded him to the Calgary Flames in November of 2003–following an injury to their starting netminder– in exchange for a second round pick in the 2005 draft: Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic Trade Outcome: Calgary

Kiprusoff became a star in Calgary in his début season. Over his 38 regular season starts, his statistics rocketed up to Vezina-caliber levels. Featuring a 24-10-4 record, a .933 save percentage, and an astonishing 1.69 goals against average, the Flames’ new goaltender helped the team to a 94-point season. This propelled the club into sixth place in the conference, thus granting them a playoff berth. This was the first time Calgary had qualified for the playoffs since 1996.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic Trade
Miikka Kiprusoff (Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE)

Their goalie stayed hot for that postseason and brought them all the way to Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals, defeating the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Finals along the way. However, they would lose that seventh game to the Tampa Bay Lighting, stopping them just short of a Stanley Cup victory.

After his breakout season in 2003-2004, his numbers stayed high until 2007-2008. He would then alternate between terrible years and incredibly amazing season for the remainder of his career. In his last five full years in the NHL, he posted the following save percentages: .906, .903, .920, .906, .921.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic Trade Outcome: San Jose

As mentioned before, the second round pick that Calgary gave up for Kiprusoff eventually turned into defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic. After his first full season, fans were critical of the move San Jose had made a few years earlier. After all, the Sharks gave up somebody who turned out to be a franchise goaltender for an unproven, 18-year old blueliner.

However, Vlasic quickly flourished into a top-tier defenseman for San Jose. After an incredible rookie year and an unfortunate sophomore slump, the young Canadian made a reputation for being one of the most reliable skaters on the Sharks’ defensive roster. Since he entered the league in 2006, Pickles has average 22:00 minutes per night, has a plus-111 rating, and possesses a 53.5% corsi despite starting 52.8% of his shifts in the defensive zone.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic Trade
Marc-Edouard Vlasic (Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE)

Since Vlasic’s forte is his defensive skill and not his goal-scoring abilities, most of the hockey world was not aware of him. However, that changed in 2014 when he helped Canada to a gold medal victory during the Winter Olympics at Sochi. Primarily being paired with Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings, Vlasic was able to demonstrate his abilities to the world while allowing the offensively minded Doughty to take risks in the attacking zone.

In addition to these statistics, the defenseman is also one of San Jose’s four alternate captains this season, officially making him part of the team’s leadership group.

The Winner of the Marc-Edouard Vlasic Trade

Marc-Edouard Vlasic Trade
(Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

As much as I hate to do this on my first article of this series, there is no single winner of this swap. Rather, there are two winners. In this deal, Calgary got a franchise goaltender, something that San Jose already had in Nabokov. In return, the Sharks obtained possibly the best defensive defenseman in franchise history. Both teams eventually benefited from this trade and got exactly what they needed at the time. This was a splendid move for both squads.

This article was originally published in February, 2015.

8 thoughts on “Trade Revisited: Vlasic for Kiprusoff”

  1. Best defensemen in San Jose Sharks history. Minimum requirement 3 seasons or 200 games in teal. (No Ozolinsh, Blake, Wilson or Norton)

    1. Dan Boyle
    2. Gary Suter
    3. Marc Edouard Vlasic

    Heck Suter barely makes the list since he barely cracked 200 games in Teal. so it’s easy to give Pickles the #2 spot. Which really shows how amazing the Sharks are at not investing in puck moving defensemen until Brian Campbell.

    Also, as solid as Vlasic was LAST season, he hasn’t been amazing this year, along with most of the team. In 2014 he garnered Norris talk. This year he isn’t in that discussion. Hell with Burns emergence its questionable if he is even the best Dman on the team now. Burns leads Vlasic in almost every statistical category both advanced and not.

    Vlasic puts together ONE amazing season and all of a sudden he is one of the best Dmen in the NHL. No he WAS one of the best in 2014 or at least in the top 10.

    Now he isn’t even in the top 25 and neither is Burns. SJ really planned for a future after Boyle.

    • Vlasic is still one of the best defensemen in the league this season, and Burns isn’t even close to him in terms of defensive skill. Example:

      Giveaways – Vlasic: 23 , Burns: 82
      Plus/Minus – Vlasic: +10 , Burns: -3

      A large reason why Pickles doesn’t receive much attention in the Norris Race is because he isn’t a goal scorer like Chara or Weber. His forte is in his intelligent defensive play, something that is incredibly difficult to gauge using statistics (though some help paint the picture). It would be difficult to find games wear a mistake by Vlasic ended up in the back of San Jose’s net so I think he is still one of the top 25 blueliners in the NHL, maybe top 10. His numbers may not be as good as last year, but considering who his partners have been (an ice-cold Braun and an offensive Brent Burns) so far, it’s hard to say it’s because his level of play has dropped.

      I do agree with you though that Boyle is the best d-man in franchise history and that the Sharks have lacked puck moving defensemen as of late.

  2. Statistically speaking, the trade appears to be very even and both teams did fill a need. However, from a results based perspective, Calgary was the clear winner. Kipper helped propel Calgary from a mediocre team that hadn’t seen the playoffs in almost a decade into a Western Conference powerhouse that came within 1 game from winning the cup. Vlasic’s appearance in Teal coincided with roughly the time SJ started off their 10 consecutive year playoff run, but he wasn’t deciding factor in that run. Also, his presence hasn’t been a “series changer” that has helped the Sharks win a series past the second round. I have been a Sharks fan for as long as the team has been in the NHL. I’ve watched games in the Cow Palace and seen lots of ups and downs over the years. As much as I would like to call it a draw or give the Sharks the win, this trade is much like the Sharks history in the playoffs. They did good, just not good enough to take the step to the next level. Statistics don’t win playoff games. Great players do. I think that alone should be the metric in judging a “winner” in a trade deal.

  3. The answer is…it’s too early to know. Vlasic is just now entering the prime of his career and he could easily play another 10 seasons. If he continues elevating the level of his play he will have been the anchor of the Sharks defense for 15 years by the time he’s done. Considering that Calgary only got 7 seasons out of Kipprusoff (and not all of them great) the winner of the trade will in all likelihood be SJ by a large margin.

    • Agreed. At this point it’s a push, but if Vlasic keeps up his play then this could turn out to be a winning trade for San Jose (especially if they win a cup with him).

  4. Calgary got the better of the deal. The way the writer frames it, yes, both teams got what they were looking for. However, San Jose knew they were giving up a franchise goaltender, I doubt they would make that deal again. There, Calgary wins the deal.

    • I don’t think SJ knew they were giving up such a great goalie because his numbers were bad as a Shark. I think they would be kicking themselves if Nabokov didn’t perform well in the future, but that wasn’t the case. In fact, Nabby’s and Kipper’s numbers are quite similar.

      Nabby in 10 years with SJ: .912 SV%, 2.39 GAA, 50 SO
      Kipper in 9 years with CGY: .913 SV%, 2.46 GAA, 41 SO

      San Jose had no real use for Kiprusoff because Nabokov was already the go to guy in net. He was able to flourish in Calgary, and I think that was great (a star goaltender didn’t go to waste). The Flames got the franchise goalie they needed, and SJ was able to enhance their roster with an incredibly stable defenseman.

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