SUN Hockey Pool

Primo free agent signs

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:17 AM ET

Days away from being able to jump into the unrestricted free-agent pool for the first time in his career, Wayne Primeau opted to stay dry.

Primeau signed a three-year, US$4.2 million deal yesterday with the Calgary Flames.

Even though he's been traded mid-season in each of the past two campaigns, he didn't demand a no-trade clause from GM Darryl Sutter.

"I took Darryl's word for it. Hopefully, it's worth it," Primeau said. "I respect Darryl because he's been good to me."

Defenceman David Hale also re-signed, inking a one-year pact, reportedly around $600,000.

Primeau, 31, is hoping to put down roots with the Flames, his sixth NHL squad.

The hiring of Iron Mike Keenan as head coach had no bearing on him waiting until Sunday to re-up with the team.

"No, he didn't," Primeau said with a laugh. "I think the type of player he likes are guys that work hard and come to play every night and I try to be like that."

A centre also capable of playing left wing, Primeau collected three goals and four assists in 27 games after coming to Calgary in the trade that also brought Brad Stuart.

Over the season split between the Flames and Boston Bruins, he collected 10 goals and 12 assists.

Sutter said the versatile Primeau's desire to stay in the Stampede City and fit in under the team's budget made a deal possible.

"By not waiting until July 1, we both showed we feel that way," Sutter said. "Besides, six-four, 225-pound guys don't fall out of trees."

Hale came from New Jersey at the trade deadline and skated in 11 regular season games and a couple in the playoffs for the Flames.

The 26-year-old -- who has no goals and nine assists in 157 regular season NHL games -- arrived as a depth defenceman before working his way into the line-up.

"When I finally got in, I think it went well. I think I contributed but I'd like to do a bit more," he said. "I'd like to establish myself. I think I haven't reached my potential."

The Flames still have a handful of pending UFAs, notably defencemen Brad Stuart and Roman Hamrlik, as well as forwards Tony Amonte, Jeff Friesen, Darren McCarty, Byron Ritchie and goaltender Jamie McLennan.

It's unlikely any of them will sign by Sunday's deadline.

Sutter wouldn't discuss negotiations with any of his players but did intimate the acquisition of defenceman Adrian Aucoin is about as big a splash as he'll make.

"We don't have to make major changes," he said of the upcoming UFA frenzy. "We have a very good hockey club.

"The Aucoin trade makes it that way for us."

Remaining RFAs are forward Eric Godard and defenceman Mark Giordano, along with minor leaguers Eric Nystrom, Tomi Maki and goaltender Curtis McElhinney.


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