Every step David Moss takes toward a return to the Flames lineup means one of his teammates is likely inching closer to saying goodbye to Calgary.
That could be Marcus Nilson, who has been a healthy scratch in 14 of the last 15 games and could find himself a candidate for the waiver wire in the near future.
Moss is in the final stages of his recovery from a high-ankle sprain that has kept him out of action since Dec. 1. Unless another of his teammates is placed on injured reserve, the Flames will have to ship a body out to get down to the 23-man limit.
There are three Flames with two-way deals -- Moss, Eric Nystrom and Dustin Boyd -- but all three of them seem to fit in head coach Mike Keenan's master plan.
Judging from his lengthy stay on the sidelines, Nilson does not.
Coach Keenan didn't join the eight players who took part in an optional skate at the Westside Rec Centre yesterday before the team travelled to Edmonton to take on the Oilers tonight. And Nilson has no answers as to why he has to have his only fun in the East vs. West mini games after practices these days.
"I have no idea," said Nilson, a soft-spoken Swede who had carved out a niche as a defensive specialist in his four seasons with the Flames.
"I obviously wish I was playing. It makes hockey a little more fun than just practising. But I can't control it."
General manager Darryl Sutter, not coach Keenan, will make the ultimate decision regarding the future state of the roster, but the worst-case scenario for Nilson could see him waived and either claimed by another team or sent to the AHL Quad City Flames.
"I don't think about that stuff," said Nilson, a former first-round pick of the Florida Panthers. "I want to come and have fun every day. When I'm not at the rink, I spend time with my family.
The 29-year-old said he has never been on waivers before.
"I've pretty much never sat out before either," he added. "A couple of times last year, maybe."
Earlier in his career, Nilson's current situation could have been devastating. As frustrating and disappointing as it is to watch games rather than play them, he takes solace in his happy home life.
"I've got a little eight-month-old boy at home who cheers me up every day," said Nilson. "If I didn't have him at home, I think it would be a lot tougher on me. But every day I come home, it's great anyway."
Health isn't an issue for Nilson, who has overcome two serious knee injuries and says he feels great right now.
Puzzling him, too, is the timing of his benching. After scoring his second goal of the season Dec. 4, Nilson suited up for just two games -- playing an average of less than five minutes -- before sitting out for a half-dozen.
Although his tone doesn't hide his disappointment, Nilson still believes he can be a factor for the Flames.
He can only hope he gets that chance again, somehow.
"I really think I can help this team," he said. "Unfortunately, I'm the only one that thinks that, maybe."