SUN Hockey Pool

Lombo not in limbo

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:34 AM ET

One collegiate hotshot, two more members of Calgary's Stanley Cup run and three local products signed new deals with the Flames yesterday.

But no one was happier than Matthew Lombardi who joined Chuck Kobasew in avoiding restricted free agency yesterday by accepting a qualifying offer to stay with the Flames.

After all, a year ago Lombardi was unsure he'd ever play hockey again thanks to Derian Hatcher's playoff savagery that left the young Flame with a serious concussion in 2004.

"Last summer was crappy -- it was brutal," said Lombardi who sat on the sidelines with post-concussion problems for almost 11 months before joining Lowell of the AHL where he had three goals and four assists in 20 regular season and playoff games.

"It was a long road back but it's over now and this summer is awesome. Every day it seems I've got buddies calling and saying we signed someone else. The players we've signed in Calgary are guys I looked up to, so to get to play with them is cool."

In all, the Flames announced the inking of first-round picks from three of the last four drafts yesterday, including the club's 10th pick in 2002, Eric Nystrom, the University of Michigan captain who signed a two-year deal.

"There was no doubt in my mind we'd get the deal done in Calgary," said the son of Islanders mucker Bob Nystrom, whose chances of making the team without a year or two in the minors got slimmer with the recent additions of Tony Amonte and Darren McCarty.

"Calgary is a serious contender this year. They're not joking around. They're putting together a team expecting to win championships and so it's going to be tough to make the team. It'll come down to performance but if I have to play in the minors to get my shot I'm willing to do that."

Former Hitmen netminder and 2000 first round selection Brent Krahn, who got his injury-riddled career back on track with Lowell last year, also re-signed with the Flames, joining Calgary-born forward Lynn Loyns and Calgary-raised goaltender Curtis McElhinney who finished at Colorado College with a 62-16-8 record.

"The chance to play behind a defence like the one Calgary has now sure gives you something to work for," said Krahn, likely destined for a year in Omaha after going 20-11-2 with a .923 save percentage in Lowell last year as Cam Ward's backup.

Kobasew, the team's first pick in 2001, will earn $900,000 while Lombardi, who rounded out the season in Lowell symptom-free, will make $460,000. Kobasew, 23, finished second in Lowell scoring with 38 goals and 37 assists in 79 games last year.

The Flames also signed Memorial Cup-winning forward Brandon Prust, who was a third-round pick in 2004.


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