If you think you're following the negotiations between the NHL and its players, imagine how tightly Eric Nystrom is monitoring the situation.
A new collective bargaining agreement isn't all that's standing between Nystrom and his first NHL contract but it is the biggest obstacle.
"I'm keeping a close eye on it," said the Flames 2002 first-round draft choice. "It looks like things are going well and hopefully sooner than later it gets done."
In Calgary for the prospects camp that wrapped up yesterday, Nystrom hopes to soon be making a home in the Stampede City.
Though likely a year or two away from being an NHLer, the son of Islanders multi-Cup winner Bob Nystrom showed over the past few days he's closer than nearly all the others on the track to the Flames roster.
"It's nice graduating from school and getting a chance to see the next level and not worrying about going back to school," said the University of Michigan grad. "It's becoming a true part of the organization."
A Sutter player in the way he pays close attention to his defensive responsibilities and plays with tenacity, the left-winger/centre knows he must climb the depth chart.
"I'm 22 years old, older than most of the guys here, so you expect to make the jump. You expect to make the big club," he said.
"But if it takes spending a year in the minors and getting some seasoning, that's what it takes."
Of course, that would mean going to a place where he's hardly popular.
The University of Nebraska-Omaha is in the same conference as Michigan and Nystrom did his share of damage to the Mavericks.
"I've had some good success against Omaha," he said with a laugh. "I actually played in that arena the minor-league team is going to be in.
"They don't like Michigan Wolverines in Omaha but I'd be playing for the home team if that's where I'm playing and hopefully will give them a reason to cheer."