SUN Hockey Pool

Giordano a hot prospect

STEVE MacFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

If Mark Giordano is an underdog in the fight for a spot on the blueline, he doesn't know it -- or show it.

The undrafted free-agent signing scored a goal and added two assists for the Calgary Flames Saturday night in Chicago and now finds himself among the final 34 vying for a job after 16 players were re-assigned to the AHL Omaha Knights yesterday.

"I think of myself as a guy battling for a spot on this team," a confident Giordano said yesterday after morning practice. "I don't think it matters where you were drafted."

Or even if you were drafted, as fellow defenceman Steve Montador proved during the Flames' playoff run.

"If you perform, you're going to get a chance to play here," continued Giordano, who was inked in July of 2004.

The 6-ft., 203-lb. lefty is hoping to follow in Montador's footsteps. The difference may be Giordano's tremendous offensive upside, which he flashed during the Flames' penalty-plagued 5-4 pre-season loss to the Blackhawks.

"I think I got a bit lucky, too -- a couple of passes the guys just buried," confessed the 22-year-old. "Everything was going right."

Don't believe for a minute his flair is a fluke. Giordano enjoyed a pair of successful seasons -- at least on a personal level -- with the Owen Sound Attack in the Ontario Hockey League, scoring 32 goals and adding 65 assists in 133 regular-season games between 2002 and 2004. During training camp, Giordano has shown a knack for finding open ice and a playmaking ability with the puck. He translated that into the NHL pre-season Saturday night.

"Before the game, we were told, the young guys, you gotta show something out there. Contribute in some sort of way," Giordano said. "You can't just go out there and just watch. If you watch these guys, you get burnt. I just tried to bring what my assets are to the game."

Confidence was key to his success in junior. After spending last season in the AHL with the Lowell Lock Monsters and recovering fully from a wrist injury sustained in his final year with the Attack, Giordano's confidence may be at an all-time high.

After all, he's already made what's considered the biggest jump in hockey -- from junior to the American league.

"I think the biggest jump is from junior," agreed Giordano. "It's a pretty big jump. The first few games I was kind of like, 'Wow, it's a quick pace out here.' But you're amazed how fast you pick up on the speed of the game."

With the NHL lockout providing even more depth to the AHL talent pool in 2004-05, Giordano's 'jump' can be considered even bigger than usual.

"Last year, we were told the league was the best it's been in 10, 15 years," he said. "It helped playing with all those guys down there with good moves. It took me a while to adjust last year. I sat and watched a few games early in the season ... got into the lineup as the year went on and just kept learning. I just got more and more confident as the year went on."

Another injection of confidence came yesterday after avoiding an early trip to Omaha.

"My first goal is to make it here but if that doesn't work out, I'm just going to go down there and play my game," he said. "I'm going to try and contribute offensively, obviously, and be solid defensively. I thought that last year that's what I really improved, defensively in my own zone -- stick position and body positioning and making the good first pass. I'm going to keep trying to do that."


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