Notable free agents

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:30 PM ET

Considering Calgary's salary cap crunch, good luck figuring out who the Flames will chase in this summer's free-agency period.

Realistically, the team isn't going to chase Ilya Kovalchuk and there aren't many other notable players available, but here are some possibilities:

ERIC NYSTROM, FLAMES

The devil you know. Coming off a career best 11-goal season, the Flames' 2002 first-round selection had a US$687,500 salary this winter. Nystrom was one of the best players when it came to crunch time. He may want a bigger role than the Flames can offer.

ALEX AULD, RANGERS

Unless the team plans to promote one of its three minor-league goalies, none of whom were standouts from start to finish, they need to find a legitimate back-up. Auld made US$1 million last season. Michael Leighton, Yann Danis and Martin Biron are also in this mix.

TOMAS HOLMSTROM, RED WINGS

Not likely with his affinity for the Red Wings and the salary he'll command, but the club has too few players who go to the front of the net, and he's the best in the league. Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff would love it, too.

ADAM BURISH, BLACKHAWKS

It's worth getting a role player from a winning team, and Burish could fit the bill in a couple of ways. He's feisty, tough and can chip in with some offence. The Flames wouldn't need to waste a salary on a policeman if they had him on board.

SCOTT NICHOL, SHARKS

The Flames brought the Calgary product to the NHL on a full-time basis and could use his services once again. He plays with energy, something sadly lacking night after night this past season, and is great on faceoffs.

COLBY ARMSTRONG, THRASHERS

Definitely a player the club would need to clear a major amount of salary for first, but with his ties to Brent Sutter, it seemed a possibility the Flames would chase him at the trade deadline.

MATT COOKE, PENGUINS

You want to be a tough team to play against? We're not sure how active teams will be courting Cooke, who is regarded as dirty by most everyone. He may not get many feelers, so it could be a cheap signing.


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