SUN Hockey Pool

Phaneuf deal leaves little cash for UFAs

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

Today, the signing of Dion Phaneuf is seen in the Calgary Flames dressing room as a positive.

It's a sign the organization is committed to winning for years to come, having locked up the star defenceman along with fellow rearguard Robyn Regehr, goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff and captain Jarome Iginla to lucrative long-term deals.

Down the road, though, there will be an impact.

As it stands, the Flames have 14 players (seven forwards, six defencemen and Kiprusoff) signed for roughly US$45-million against the salary cap.

That makes it a tall order to keep the likes of pending unrestricted free agents Daymond Langkow and Kristian Huselius in the fold.

"I try not to think about it," said Huselius. "You can tell this team has some cap issues. That's the way it is.

"I can't really focus on it -- just let it go and play my game and try to get better for the playoffs."

Seeing as Huselius and Langkow are looking at sizable raises from their current salaries -- $1.4 million for Huselius and $2.442 million for Langkow -- it's hard to imagine the Flames will keep both of the top-six forwards. Keeping one of them may not be possible.

General manager Darryl Sutter said Wednesday decisions regarding those two, as well as the club's other pending UFAs -- a list that includes the likes of Craig Conroy, Owen Nolan, Stephane Yelle Mark Smith, Eric Godard, David Hale and Curtis Joseph -- will be based on performance, both individually and in the playoffs.

Huselius is well aware of what's at stake for him, even if it won't mean remaining in Calgary.

"It's huge for the whole team and huge for me. You always want to be prepared to play well," Huselius said. "As a team, we have to come together as a group because there are 27 games left.

"I have to get better, get back on track and do my thing to help the team win."

Of course, the Flames could shed salary between now and the July 1 free-agency deadline, with the biggest contract rumoured to be on the block belonging to Alex Tanguay.

Tanguay's plan between now and the Feb. 26 trade deadline -- despite having a no-trade clause -- is to ignore the possibility of a move since those discussions were wearing on his mind last month.

"Before the break, I wasn't focusing on the right things, and it certainly affected my play," Tanguay said. "Now, I'm just going to try and go out, play the best I can, and the rest I can't do anything about. I'll just let it go for now."


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