SUN Hockey Pool

Forget help wanted sign

RANDY SPORTAK, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

For a rookie, trying to find a hole in the Calgary Flames roster to wedge into isn't easy.

One newcomer will apparently earn a job as backup 'keeper behind Miikka Kiprusoff.

There are no spots vacant for defencemen, with the top seven signed and all but one -- rising star Dion Phaneuf -- signed to one-way contracts.

Among the forwards, there is a glimmer of hope, but it certainly isn't a huge opportunity.

Take a peek at the forwards already inked to contracts and you'll see 11 on one-way contracts and another, David Moss, who scored at a 20-goal pace last season

Certainly there are no guarantees Moss will hold onto his spot, but as it stands, only one forward position is up for grabs: A likely fourth-line role shared with enforcer Eric Godard.

Here's a look at who could be donning the Flaming C when the Philadelphia Flyers come calling for the Oct. 4 season opener:

ANDREI TARATUKHIN

The second-round draft choice from 2001 had an excellent first season in North America last year, collecting 17 goals and 60 points for AHL Omaha. The most likely forward candidate from last year's Knights squad, he's more likely a checking forward -- and mainly a centre -- but capable of moving to the wing.

GRANT STEVENSON

Stevenson had a dream NHL debut with the Sharks, scoring against the Flames in his first big-league contest. A right wing who'll turn 26 in mid-October, he spent all of last season in the minors and was signed as a free agent. If none of the younger candidates can take the bull by the horns, his experience will likely pay off.

BRANDON PRUST

A willing shift disturber and energy player, the second year pro skated in 10 games for Calgary last year and collected 25 penalty minutes. With Omaha, he posted 17 goals and 211 PIMs in 63 games. He's willing to scrap anybody.

ERIC NYSTROM

Almost a forgotten man after a disappointing 06-07 campaign. The 10th overall pick in 2002, his defence-first game would benefit a fourth line spot.

DUSTIN BOYD

The speedy centre played 13 NHL games last year and was one of the AHL's top rookies with 27 goals and 60 points in 66 games. His skills are suited for a top-six position, and the club may rather have him skating 20-plus minutes in the minors than six or seven with the big club.

DAVID VAN DER GULIK

A darkhorse, but one to watch. Van Der Gulik has a decent all-round game with speed, skill and defensive awareness -- his plus-27 rating was tops among Knights forwards. Not a big forward but he's gritty enough.

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THEY'RE NEW TO US

OWEN NOLAN

After missing the 2005-06 season -- as well as the lockout-killed campaign before -- the veteran warrior had a good comeback year in Phoenix with 16 goals and 40 points. And he only missed six games. Could the first-overall selection from 1990 score 20 goals?

ADRIAN AUCOIN

The Windy City turned into a disaster for the blueliner. He was an all-star in 2003-04 with the N.Y. Islanders, but went through a pair of injury-plagued seasons with the Blackhawks. Aucoin began taking his game to its top level under coach Mike Keenan.

CORY SARICH

A defensive defenceman, the 29-year-old will also be part of the top two pairings. Sarich, who has played in 427 consecutive games, will be counted on to help the Flames' penalty killing unit.

He signed a five-year, US$18 million contract.

ANDERS ERIKSSON

Eriksson's debut in Flames silks will finally happen.

He signed with Calgary just before the lockout, but never suited up for the team.

He'll be a third-pairing defender but has some hands and can take a turn on the second powerplay unit.

MIKE KEENAN

Known as Iron Mike, he'll take over the head duties from Jim Playfair, who was kept as associate head coach. Keenan captured a Stanley Cup while guiding the New York Rangers in 1993-94, and has several other accolades under his belt.

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POSSIBLE FLAMES LINE COMBOS

FORWARDS

LW C RW

Alex Tanguay Craig Conroy Jarome Iginla

Kristian Huselius Daymond Langkow Owen Nolan

Wayne Primeau Stephane Yelle Marcus Nilson

Eric Godard Matthew Lombardi David Moss

DEFENCE GOAL

Robyn Regehr Adrian Aucoin Miikka Kiprusoff

Dion Phaneuf Cory Sarich

Anders Eriksson Rhett Warrener

David Hale

GOAL

Miikka Kiprusoff


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