SUN Hockey Pool

Christmas wish list

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

Holiday shopping is never easy. Finding items at the right price is as important as the gift itself.

At least it is when you're browsing a list of NHL players as the Dec. 19 roster freeze quickly approaches.

Calgary Flames GM/head coach Darryl Sutter is rumoured to be shopping for a centre or scorer to complement Jarome Iginla and, if you believe all the trade whispers floating around, the list of available players may be growing.

Centres Patrick Marleau, Doug Weight, Olli Jokinen, Oleg Kvasha, Jason Allison, Brad Richards and Marc Savard have all been mentioned as potential bait, while wingers Petr Sykora and Owen Nolan are believed to be available to the highest bidder.

The Flames' acquisition of underachieving Kristian Huselius showed Sutter is willing to take chances in order to improve his team. The only question is whether any of the apparently attainable players fit with the Flames -- and whether the asking price is right.

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PATRICK MARLEAU

C, SAN JOSE SHARKS ($4M)

With 13 points in his last five games, he is on pace for a career high 100-point season. The addition of centre Joe Thornton has fuelled rumours Marleau will be moved but the burden of having two high-profile middlemen is a luxury many teams would gladly accept. The Sharks have space under the cap, so it would likely cost the Flames a bundle.

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OWEN NOLAN

W, FREE AGENT

The former Toronto Maple Leaf is recovering from knee surgery and expects to be ready to play in January. The rugged winger played under Sutter in San Jose and would be a risky but welcome addition if he were willing to accept a salary of around $1.5 million.

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DOUG WEIGHT

C, ST. LOUIS BLUES ($5.7M)

His hefty paycheque eliminates him from contention, unless Flames ownership ups Sutter's budget and Calgary unloads enough salary in return. Contract aside, Weight -- an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season -- would come relatively cheap. A swap for Steve Reinprecht, also a free agent this spring, and a draft pick may be possible.

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OLLI JOKINEN

C, FLORIDA PANTHERS ($2.5M)

The sizable (6-ft. 3-in., 215 lb.) two-way centre will be a free agent at the end of this season and is currently on almost a point-per-game pace for the Panthers. A realistic target for Sutter, Florida would probably expect someone like Daymond Langkow or Steve Reinprecht and a defenceman or prospect in return.

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MARC SAVARD

C, ATLANTA THRASHERS ($2.3M)

Many fans disappointed with Savard's first tenure with the Flames consider the idea laughable but the centre is capable of putting up points. His distaste for backchecking may be too much for Sutter, though.

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BRAD RICHARDS

C, TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING ($3.4M)

The Flames saw firsthand in the 2004 Stanley Cup final how skilled Richards is. A restricted free agent at the end of the year, Richards is a bargain for the remainder of this season and could later be signed to a long-term deal. Tampa's potential cap problems may force them to deal the 25-year-old but he wouldn't come at a cheap price. Think Robyn Regehr and Daymond Langkow for starters.

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Dear Santa,

We've been good this year. Very good, in fact.

We're sitting first in the tight Northwest Division, among the best in the Western Conference. And we're making it all happen with one of the lowest goal totals in the league.

That brings us to the reason we're writing you this letter, big guy.

We've mastered the art of defence and owe our 18-9-4 record to the team's philosophy -- you know, taking care of business in our own end first and all that jazz.

The problem is our fans want more.

They want us to win games by larger margins. They want a more exciting offence.

They want goals, Santa, and they don't want the goals to come at the expense of more goals against.

So what we want from you this holiday season are the following:

* Health for Roman Hamrlik, whose offensive skills on the blueline will be missed as much as his defensive prowess while he's out.

* A wealth of production for our secondary scorers, Steve Reinprecht, Chuck Kobasew, Chris Simon and Shean Donovan.

* A consistent No. 1 centre for our captain Jarome Iginla. He has to be a solid two-way player, of course, and must be brave enough to sacrifice his body in the corners in order to feed our Iggy the puck.

We hope we're not asking for too much.

Sincerely,

The Calgary Flames


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