SUN Hockey Pool

Flames to add vital pieces

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

OTTAWA -- How the actual selections will pan out won't be known for years, but aftershocks from this weekend's work at the NHL draft might be felt immediately.

With a couple of swift moves Friday night as the opening round began, the Calgary Flames put themselves in a position to be a bigger player in the free agent market when it kicks off July 1.

Seeds planted in the ears of his fellow general mangers on the Scotiabank Place floor may also grow into fruitful deals as early as this week, when Flames GM Darryl Sutter continues to try and improve his team.

By jettisoning Alex Tanguay and his $5.25-million salary cap hit and bringing aboard a younger, cheaper and maybe even-more talented Mike Cammalleri -- who has a $3.35-million cap number for next season -- saves the Flames nearly $2 million this year.

With a half-dozen holes to fill in the lineup and an expected camp jump to a $56-million ceiling, that seemingly small amount of extra dough could go a long way.

"It might change what we look at in terms of trade or free agency. It gives you a little bit more leeway in terms of money. Instead of looking at a third-line guy, or a sixth or seventh defenceman, maybe you can look higher if it's there," Sutter said after all his amateur selections were made Saturday afternoon.

"We have the opportunity to make our team better again."

Assuming Cammalleri jumps in as the left-winger on the top line, centre Daymond Langkow returns as expected, and Matthew Lombardi assumes second-line pivot duties, there are still a couple of holes to be filled among the top-six forward spots.

An experienced and exciting winger on either side of the second line would be a solid addition. Dustin Boyd and David Moss might be the best current options with Owen Nolan's future still uncertain.

As things stand, the Flames feel they set themselves up for a promising future with a draft that was heavy on forwards.

They covered their bases by adding a pure goal-scorer in Greg Nemisz with the 25th overall pick, a playmaking centre in Mitch Wahl with their second-round selection, and a couple of big-bodied power-forward types in Lance Bouma and Nick Larson in the third and fourth rounds, respectively.

A second fourth-rounder, TJ Brodie, is a smooth-skating, puck-moving defenceman, and their final pick in the seventh round is a Swede named Alexander Deilert, who Flames scout Anders Steen says is a strong two-way defender he's been watching for a few years.

Calgary even added a tough guy when they drafted Ryley Grantham of Hanna in the sixth round. The 6-ft.-3, 207-lb. 20-year-old enforcer who played for the Moose Jaw Warriors last season -- and happens to be former NHLer Jim Nill's nephew -- will be groomed for a grinding role one day.

"You can't always eat at the nice restaurant. Sometimes, you've got to go to a greasy spoon. When you're building a hockey team, it's the same thing. You can't have all fine dining," said Tod Button, the Flames' director of amateur scouting, of adding some muscle to a well-rounded crop of picks. "Building a car, you need tires, an engine and you need a couple of nuts to hold it all together."

Most of the class of 2008 won't be making an impact for three or four years -- probably even more than that for Larson, who has another year in the USHL before heading to college at Notre Dame -- but Flames fans have every reason to expect another splash as a result of a successful weekend.


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