Phaneuf hopes to impact D

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:26 AM ET

Amid the flurry of signings by the Calgary Flames, Dion Phaneuf has flown somewhat under the radar.

No wonder, given the talented rearguard signed a three-year deal back in Sept. 2004, played for the Red Deer Rebels in the WHL last season and has yet to play an NHL game.

But the Flames have amassed a blueline brigade second to none -- especially after signing Roman Hamrlik this week -- so it's going to be that much tougher for the 20-year-old Phaneuf to crack the lineup.

The former stalwart Rebel said the Flames' depth is amazing and he's just worried about taking care of business.

"I have to go into camp and all I can control is how I play on the ice and that's my mindset. Just go there, give everything I've got and do my best," said the 6-ft. 3-in., 210-pounder from Edmonton, who signed a three-year, entry-level deal under the old CBA.

"All I can control is how I do on the ice. I can't control what happens other than that."

Flames GM/head coach Darryl Sutter recently said Phaneuf has to prove himself as an NHL defenceman. He'll likely give his top prospect every chance to do just that starting next month.

"I'm very excited about training camp. It's a great opportunity to go in and have a chance to play in the National Hockey League," said Phaneuf, who could make $1.24 million US per season including bonuses.

It's a shot at playing for what many feel will be one of the league's top clubs this season, with a good shot at another playoff run like the one the Flames enjoyed in 2004.

"It's no secret the Flames have got a very deep lineup right now and it's going to be exciting to go to camp with some of those players. For me, it'll be the chance of a lifetime and I've got lots of work to do," said Phaneuf, a standout on Canada's gold-medal-winning world junior team.

Phaneuf will be competing with Hamrlik, Jordan Leopold, Andrew Ference, Robyn Regehr, Rhett Warrener, Toni Lydman and Steve Montador -- if they are all still around come training camp -- for a job.

When Phaneuf talks about giving everything he's got, the ninth-overall pick in 2003 has got plenty in terms of talent. He can skate, hits everything in sight -- hard -- plus he's got a killer shot from the point.

Phaneuf also likes to get under the opposition's skin.

"I'm a hard-nosed defenceman and I take pride in having other teams hate to play against me. I play a defensive game and if there's an opportunity to jump up into the play, I'll do that," said Phaneuf, who put up 146 points in 255 WHL games through four seasons with Red Deer.


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