Flames signing '05 picks

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

Matt Pelech's contract is done and he's taken the next step to becoming an NHLer.

Yet, the Calgary Flames prospect -- and first-round draft choice from 2005 -- is still like most teenagers, leaning on their parents for a buck.

"My parents took me out to celebrate," reported Pelech, whose three-year entry-level contract with the Flames was finalized on the weekend and announced yesterday. "I'm, unfortunately, still hurting for cash until I get my bonus.

"Then I'll take them out for dinner."

The Flames announced contracts yesterday for three other 2005 picks, defenceman Gord Baldwin, goalie Matt Keetley and centre Brett Sutter.

With Dan Ryder, J.D. Watt and Kevin Lalande already in the fold, it means the club inked seven of its eight draftees.

"It's a good group, exactly what we expected it was in the 2005 draft," said Flames GM Darryl Sutter. "If you didn't win the lottery (meaning, didn't get to take Sidney Crosby or the other couple of highly touted prospects) it was likely a player you got in the first round had as much potential as a player in the fifth or sixth round.

"This is part of the team's long-term goal, to develop players.

"We're saying we have some young players from Omaha who will be playing here and some young players, if they have a good summer and a good training camp, will be playing in Omaha."

The lone player from that draft not signed is seventh-rounder Myles Rumsey, whose season with Swift Current was ended in the WHL playoffs by a major knee injury. He tore both the ACL and MCL.

Calgary also announced the signing of undrafted 20-year-old free-agent defenceman Brad Cole, who was captain of the Saskatoon Blades.

Cole, who collected 16 goals and 25 assists this past season for the Blades, attended Calgary's training camp last year.

"He knows what course he was expected to take and he had a very good season," Sutter said.

Pelech, who'll celebrate his 20th birthday in September, had -- by far -- his best OHL season with Belleville. The 6-ft. 4-in., 225-lb. defenceman from Toronto netted five goals and 30 assists in 58 games and, most importantly, was relatively injury free.

He had a couple of injury-plagued seasons, including his draft year in which he twice broke his jaw.

"Physically, it was really good to not get injured, at least not anything too serious," he said. "The last couple of years, my development was probably hindered a bit."

Helping his cause, too, was a season playing on the Olympic-sized ice in Belleville.

"It made me a little bit more mobile," he said. "When you play in Belleville, you have to be a good skater. I think it helped me be more agile."

Sutter, who'll be heading to general managers' meetings later this week, was tight-lipped about any other pending signings, especially about his crop of potential unrestricted free agents.

"We've been working on the kids and the Group 2 players (restricted free agents)," he said. "We'll try working on meeting some agents and that's as far as we've got."


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