SUN Hockey Pool

Langkow deal 'pretty close'

RANDY SPORTAK

, Last Updated: 7:30 AM ET

Without the Is dotted and Ts crossed, Daymond Langkow won't discuss his pending contract extension.

From the way he spoke yesterday, though, it seems only a matter of time before the Calgary Flames centre has a new deal in hand.

"I think we're pretty close," Langkow said as he and his teammates departed from the Saddledome for the season.

"I hope it'll get done. I'm pretty optimistic and we're not that far apart, so I think we'll work something out."

Seems like Flames GM Darryl Sutter will scratch the name of one of his unrestricted free agents off his list soon enough.

That would leave him with lots to go. Counting minor-league goalies Curtis McElhinney and Brent Krahn, the Flames have a baker's dozen worth of UFAs.

Obviously, they won't all return. Three are netminders and Krahn is likely done in the organization after yet another injury-plagued season, but the list runs deep.

The whole second line from the playoffs -- Kristian Huselius, Craig Conroy, Owen Nolan -- are free to go, as are forwards Stephane Yelle, Eric Nystrom, Mark Smith and Eric Godard.

Defencemen David Hale and Jim Vandermeer are also due to be UFAs July 1.

Sutter refused to delve into the situation yesterday.

"It's not fair for me to answer that. I'd rather be able to tell the whole truth in that," he said.

Conroy knows he'd only return to a third-line job, with Matthew Lombardi expected to take on a bigger role, but dearly wants to remain in the city, having left in 2004 for a dismal time in Los Angeles before returning via trade.

"I left Calgary once. I don't really want to leave Calgary again. This is where I want to play and be a part of," said Conroy, who'll have knee surgery for a torn meniscus.

"(Salary) is not a big a deal. Last time, I thought it was my big contract. Now, my family likes it here, my kids really enjoy it, I love the city, the city's been great to me.

"Calgary seems like home."

Nolan dealt with neck problems all season and wants to find out if his body can take the rigours of another season.

Yelle, who spent the last five seasons in Calgary, isn't sure what the future holds.

Nystrom, meanwhile, becomes a UFA because he's played fewer than 80 NHL games in his first three pro seasons and is 25 or older.

"My loyalties lie with the Flames," said the 2002 first-round draft choice. "I have to sit down and make the best business decision for my career, but at the moment there hasn't been a decision made and there hasn't been a lot of time to decide it."

He would like to play a bigger role in the future.

"You have to earn that, but I think I can be a key player on this team and that's the type of confidence you have to have," he said. "I want to be a go-to guy, have a positive role on this team."

Vandermeer and Hale are part of a defence corps that currently has six players signed for the coming season, though it's a reasonable thought the team would like to move Rhett Warrener and/or Anders Eriksson.

Plus, there is the possibility of Mark Giordano returning after a year in Russia.

"Pretty sure they'll take care of some other guys and other business (first)," Hale said. "That's pretty early right now. Guys are just worried about where they're going this weekend.

"I'd love to come back. I love playing here. A great bunch of guys, the core guys are great and committed to winning and so is this organization and the fan base is unbelievable.

"Personally, I wouldn't want to play anywhere else, but we'll see how it goes and see what happens."

The goalie situation seems murky behind star Miikka Kiprusoff. Sutter said he's not sure how Joseph feels about another year as a back-up.

"I want to talk to him about it. He came and did a really good job and is probably a big reason why we got the seventh seed, just the wins he gave us and the break he could give Kipper," Sutter said.

"He did it on a short term, was great and willing to accept it, great in the room, great with Miikka, all those things. The next thing is are you willing to do that for a whole year?"


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