'Right' move for Flames

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

A year after his NHL comeback bid nearly began in Calgary, Owen Nolan is finally set to become a member of the Flames.

While a team representative said they had nothing to announce last night, a hockey insider confirmed the 35-year-old will sport the Flaming C next season.

With that, Flames general manager Darryl Sutter may have hopped out of the free-agent pool as quickly as he dove in.

The most glaring holes -- the only holes, really -- on the roster were at right wing behind captain Jarome Iginla and on defence where both Brad Stuart and Roman Hamrlik were expected to ink elsewhere during the blitz that began on Canada Day.

A trade for veteran rearguard Adrian Aucoin during the draft and Sunday's signing of former Lightning blueliner Cory Sarich take care of the top four on the back end.

Nolan, whose deal is reportedly worth US$1.75 million in base salary and up to $2 million including incentive bonuses, is a fine complement to the right side where the drop-off behind Iginla was significant.

David Moss spent the latter half of last season on the second line as a rookie but there are no guarantees he would continue at his prorated 20-goal pace this year.

Skeptics are already dubbing Nolan 'The Next Tony Amonte' disappointment in Calgary but while Amonte leaves town with a sour taste in his mouth after a 10-goal, 30-point campaign, Nolan comes in with a surprisingly effective 16-goal, 40-point season with the Desert Dogs.

Also take into account the fact Nolan was only a minus-2 on a terrible Coyotes team. Amonte was two worse with the playoff-bound Flames.

The signing will reunite Nolan with his longtime San Jose Sharks coach Darryl Sutter, who can devote even more time now to inking extensions for key core players Iginla, Robyn Regehr and Miikka Kiprusoff.

Reports last night said Regehr has signed a five-year extension worth $20 million, which would kick in after his current contract expires next summer.

Regehr is slated to make a little more than $2 million this season.

A new deal -- which is said to include a no movement clause -- would be a great wedding gift for Regehr, who is getting hitched to fiancee Kristina in less than two weeks.

Calgary-based agent J.P. Barry, who represents both Regehr and Nolan, refused comment on both clients.

Nolan has racked up 365 goals and 775 points in 991 NHL outings over 15 seasons with the Quebec Nordiques, Colorado Avalanche, Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs and Coyotes.

He scored 19 goals and 29 assists in 65 games with the Leafs in 2003-04 but was out of hockey for two years because of a knee injury that required surgery during the lockout and led to a court battle between the winger and his former employer.

As he worked his way back to health, there were rumblings Nolan would sign with the Flames late in the 2005-06 season but he opted to wait a little longer before returning to action.

When he did, it was the Coyotes who wooed him with a $1.225-million, one-year deal.

That turned out to be a steal.

If Nolan is as productive with the Flames, the $2 million shelled out could be the bargain of this year's free-agent spendings.

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DIVVYING UP THE CASH

Flames under contract and approximate cap hits:

CENTRES

Daymond Langkow $2.4M

Craig Conroy $2.4M

Matthew Lombardi $1.8M

Stephane Yelle $1.4M

Wayne Primeau $1.4M

WINGERS

Jarome Iginla $7.0M

Alex Tanguay $5.25M

Owen Nolan $1.75M

Kristian Huselius $1.4M

Marcus Nilson $1.0M

David Moss $575,000

DEFENCEMEN

Adrian Aucoin $4.0M

Cory Sarich $3.6M

Rhett Warrener $2.4M

Robyn Regehr $2.0M

Dion Phaneuf $785,000

David Hale $590,000

* Mark Giordano $590,000

GOALTENDERS

Miikka Kiprusoff $3.4M

*RFA, qualifying offer


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