SUN Hockey Pool

Regehr rolling with less

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:26 AM ET

Sure, Robyn Regehr could have waited a year and gone searching for more.

More money, more security, more options.

All the things fit for an in-demand NHLer in the wacky world of free agency.

However, the Calgary Flames defenceman opted for the road less travelled, foregoing his first opportunity to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and signing a five-year contract extension worth US$20 million.

It's not chump change but certainly less than what the 27-year-old would have received by calling for the highest bidder next summer. Regehr -- due to be married in a couple of weeks -- is fine with it.

"That's not what it was all about. The value is very fair and we're happy with it," Regehr said yesterday in a conference call. "There were a lot of factors. For me and Kristina ... being in Calgary was our number-one option and I say that for a couple of different reasons.

"The team, I think, we've turned it around considerably from where the Calgary Flames were when I first joined the organization in 1999. Our team is a strong team now and I think we're very capable of winning it all, here.

"Also, it's living in Calgary. Kristina has lived in Calgary just over 10 years and for myself, it's been eight years. It's a nice place to be, the ownership group is really good. I don't think there would be any better place to go."

It's the second time in his career Regehr has signed a five-year contract. He'll play the upcoming 2007-08 campaign under the final year of his previous deal that will pay him $2.052 million (with a $1.875 million cap hit) and leave him underpaid by today's standards.

He's not at all concerned about the same thing happening with this deal as he's more interested in the length of the deal and his quality of life.

"To be able to have something signed and not have to worry about it for that length of time is really nice," he said. "As the cap continues to go up, the bigger revenue teams, the teams that are always gonna spend the max, are going to overpay players just to try to work their way into contention and that's why you're seeing those really big numbers.

"But for my own situation, the value of the contract was important but wasn't the most important. To me, term was important."

Regehr's contract was one of two coups announced by GM Darryl Sutter yesterday. Captain Jarome Iginla inked a five-year extension, worth $35 million.

Both are below market value and both at a time when so many teams are having trouble keeping their stars.

"It's a very good hockey club and has been for -- including the lockout -- four seasons, so that makes it an easier decision for players," Sutter said. "And, two, I'll say it first-hand, not from a recruiting tool but I've lived here four years, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better place to live, whether you're a hockey player or not a hockey player.

"When players agree to extensions, there's still a year on their contract and a lot comes into play, say a player suffers a career-ending injury or can get traded during the year. Those things come into their thinking."

Regehr's signing solidifies a defensive corps that took a couple of hits with the loss of both Brad Stuart and Roman Hamrlik through free agency but brought in veterans Adrian Aucoin and Cory Sarich.

The big key, however, is the hulking Regehr, the 6-ft.-3, 225-lb. cornerstone who collected two goals and 19 assists to go with a team-best plus-27 rating last season.

"I've always said it's important to win a Stanley Cup, to have one of the best defences in the league," Sutter said. "And even though we've made changes every year -- we've had to -- on our defence, we haven't lost what the identity of that group was and is, and Robyn's a big part of that.

"I said when I came here the two most important players in our organization were Robyn Regehr and Jarome Iginla. That's going back a few years and, obviously, I still feel that way."

Having had a couple of months, Regehr's also now healthy.

A knee injury suffered late in the regular season limited him to only part of one playoff game but he said he's 100% again after being cleared by an orthopaedic surgeon.

STEVENSON INKED

Forward Grant Stevenson, grandson of NHL great -- and former Flames goalie coach -- Glenn Hall, was signed on a one-year, two way deal yesterday.

"It's a good depth move for our organization," Sutter said. "I like that he has some NHL experience."

Stevenson, 25, played 47 NHL games with the San Jose Sharks during the 2005-06 season where he registered 10 goals, 12 assists for 22 points. Last season, he had 39 points in 59 contests with Worcester of the AHL.


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