SUN Hockey Pool

Chucko thinks hard before inking deal

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:50 PM ET

The choice seems obvious.

Facing a decision to either complete the second half of your college education or sign on the dotted line with an NHL team for a shot at a profitable pro career, most would scramble to find a pen.

It wasn't that easy for Kris Chucko.

The left-winger, one of three draft picks the Calgary Flames announced had agreed to contracts yesterday, took his time deliberating whether or not to leave the University of Minnesota Gophers after two seasons.

"It's something I had to think about, for sure," said the Flames' 2004 first-round pick, who was given a three-year, two-way deal worth $900,000 US with the big club. "It's something we definitely sat down and talked about with my family, my adviser and my agent. We felt it was the right step to make for my hockey career."

Fellow forwards Adam Cracknell (ninth round, 2004) and David VanDerGulik (seventh round, 2002) also inked contracts and are expected to join Chucko on Calgary's AHL club in Omaha next year.

Chucko was expected to take on a leadership role with the Gophers next year and that was tough to turn down.

"They said that, coming back, they wanted me to wear a letter and be a leader on the team," said Chucko.

"That's why it was such a tough decision for me."

The 6-ft. 2-in., 200-pounder, a hard-working player with the potential to become a power forward, opted to leave school and sign in late April as the Flames were about to begin their first-round series against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

"I talked to Darryl (GM/head coach Darryl Sutter) and he was really excited about it. Said that they were prepared to move forward and they wanted me to move forward as well," said Chucko. "They were really excited to have me and they really want to get me in their system where I can develop and, hopefully, one day become a Calgary Flame."

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GREAT AWARD: Peterborough centre Daniel Ryder, the second of two third-round picks by the Flames in last year's draft, took home the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award as MVP of the OHL playoffs after his team swept the London Knights.


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