SUN Hockey Pool

Room to grow

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:14 PM ET

Like everyone else in the hockey world, Jordan Leopold knew something was going to be done.

With training camp right around the corner, the Calgary Flames' blueline was a little crowded.

GM/head coach Darryl Sutter addressed the overload Thursday by trading Toni Lydman to Buffalo for a draft pick.

But it still comes as a shock when a teammate is sent packing.

"Toni's a good guy and has been a good teammate," Leopold said. "He probably had the longest tenure other than Jarome (Iginla) and (Denis) Gauthier, before he was traded.

"He's been here a long time. As a teammate, we wish him the best of luck but I guess there'll be more opportunity (for the remaining d-men)."

Lydman never developed into the powerplay quarterback the club envisioned he'd become.

Newly acquired Roman Hamrlik is sure to see some minutes with the man advantage. But Leopold will also be given a shot to quarterback the unit.

"We'll see what happens," Leopold said.

"I don't want to speculate on anything now. We have training camp to go through.

"It would be a great opportunity, that's for sure. But I have to go out there and have a good camp and let the pieces fall where they may."

The Flames' embarrassment of riches on the back end has fans excited about the upcoming season. But, Leopold cautions, potential is one thing. Production is another.

"We're strong," he said. "On paper, we have experience from (2003-04). But you have to take care of business on the ice. We'll be fine if we stay focused on our goals."

Leopold, who didn't play for anyone during the lockout, committed himself to a strict training regiment this summer.

He suffered a concussion just before the World Cup of Hockey last fall and wasn't cleared to play until late November.

After taking a few months off, he suited up for Team USA at the world championships.

"I've been skating all summer because

I know I've been off for awhile," he said. "Playing in the world championships definitely helped.

"I got the itch back and got more involved.

"I don't think I lost anything. It was a year of recovery after that long playoff run."

Leopold said he's not the only one who can't wait to hit the ice.

"I think the guys are more excited and are in better shape than they ever have been before.

"I've been waiting for this for a year now so I'm just staying positive until the puck drops."


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