Good as gone

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:41 AM ET

The Calgary Flames may be saying hello to a couple more new faces this summer.

It's even more likely they've said their last goodbyes to popular veterans Chris Simon and Shean Donovan.

Unless new contracts are signed today, both wingers are set to become unrestricted free agents at 10 p.m. tonight when the NHL free-for-all is slated to begin.

Flames GM/head coach Darryl Sutter is working hard to lock up newcomer Alex Tanguay -- a restricted free agent -- for more than just next season but that's where his current negotiation list ends.

"I'm not talking contracts with any of our unrestricted free agents," Sutter said over the phone yesterday from his office at the Saddledome.

Other Flames expected to hit the open market tonight include wingers Mike Leclerc and part-timer Craig MacDonald, defencemen Bryan Marchment and Cale Hulse and goaltender Brian Boucher.

"They're older players," Sutter said of the group. "We feel younger players making less can probably -- not probably, can -- fill that bill for us.

"It's the new world. The way the league is, there's going to be a lot of older players that, to be quite honest, will be out of the game."

Sutter certainly wasn't implying the soon-to-be former Flames wouldn't find a spot somewhere -- he didn't suggest they couldn't or wouldn't talk later in the summer, either -- but the league's salary-cap system has changed the business.

"The new collective bargaining agreement is now about players moving," said Sutter. "Anybody who lives in the past and tries to think you can keep 20 players together over a period of time really hasn't done much homework. It's impossible for it to happen going forward."

New faces added over the next few days, weeks or couple of months likely will include an established backup goaltender who can create a competitive atmosphere with prospect Brent Krahn in camp, and a defenceman to join a solid core that's one man short now that Jordan Leopold has been dealt.

Don't be surprised if a familiar face is among any new additions.

Goaltender Jamie (Noodles) McLennan could become a UFA and stands out as a great fit among a thin market that should include Mike Dunham, Johan Hedberg, Patrick Lalime and John Grahame.

While no talks are allowed between potential free agents and prospective teams until midnight Eastern time, Sutter fondly remembers Noodles' time as a backup with the Flames in 2003-04 before McLennan was traded to the New York Rangers in a package deal that brought Simon to Cowtown.

The fun-loving Edmonton product went 12-9-3 with four shutouts, a 2.20 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage that year.

"Jamie McLennan went on a run there when both (Roman) Turek and (Miikka) Kiprusoff were hurt basically without notice. I think he won seven of 11," Sutter said.

"We probably wouldn't have been a playoff team if Noodles hadn't done that for us."


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