SUN Hockey Pool

Flames eye draft

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:39 AM ET

Darryl Sutter has a history of stealing the show on draft day.

Considering the Flames don’t have a first- or second-round draft choice in the upcoming affair, it’s easy to understand why pundits expect the Calgary GM to make a really big splash in Los Angeles.

Even though the Flames have a pair of selections in each of the third and fourth rounds, Sutter said Monday he doesn’t plan to dramatically pursue adding more choices at the June 25-26 draft.

“We’ve signed four kids we think cover us with our second-round pick, easy, and we have two thirds and two fourths,” Sutter said. “The players you get from 40 to 100 are all really similar players, so we’ll get four of them and I like that.

“How tough is it to acquire a first-rounder? I’d say impossible unless you’re going to trade a top player, and I don’t think we’re going to do that.”

However, if he is planning to — or trying to right now — he likely wouldn’t tip his hand in the media.

The Flames officially added hulking defenceman Christopher Breen to the stable Monday.

Breen, a 6-foot-7,

224-lb. defenceman, split his final junior season between the Erie Otters and Peterborough Petes.

He also played one regular-season game for the AHL Abbotsford Heat, but didn’t partake in any playoff action.

“He’s a big kid. He’s probably like Keith Aulie and Gord Baldwin, except he’s actually bigger than they are,” Sutter said.

Earlier this spring, the Flames signed Bryan Cameron to an entry-level contract, and also inked free agents Jon Rheault — a 2006 Philadelphia Flyers pick who scored six goals in 13 playoff games and three goals in five regular-season games with the Heat — and Lethbridge Hurricanes captain Carter Bancks to AHL contracts.

Sutter said the Flames won’t sign 2008 seventh-round draft choice Alexander Deilert before the June 1 deadline.

Calgary has already signed five of its choices from that draft — Greg Nemisz, Mitch Wahl, Lance Bouma, T.J. Brodie and Ryley Grantham. Nick Larson, chosen 108th, is attending Notre Dame University, and the club still has a few years with his rights.

“Good players,” Sutter said of that crop.

“You’re never going to sign them all. That’s the bottom line. You try and prioritise them. A lot of those European boys drafted aren’t coming out until later on, 24, 25, 26.”

With those orders of business out of the way, Sutter will soon turn his focus to his own free agents.

Topping the chart is restricted-free-agent defenceman Ian White — the lone full-time NHLer in that boat.

Sutter said negotiations are still in the preliminary stage.

“We’ve talked to all agents and will see where it goes. We haven’t made any formal offers, but we’ve talked to them,” he said.

“We’ll work at it over the next month and see where we get to.”

Sutter said he’d be comfortable with a one-year deal with White, who has arbitration rights.

“I don’t think it would hurt us either way,” Sutter said.

Calgary’s other pending RFAs include 2005 first-round draft choice Matt Pelech, 2004 first-rounder Kris Chucko, goalie Matt Keetley, Baldwin and Brett Sutter.

Eric Nystrom is likely the most valuable pending unrestricted free agent, but Calgary’s list also includes Christopher Higgins, Craig Conroy, Jamal Mayers and Brian McGrattan.

“We still have 30 days to make those decisions,” Sutter said.

“I wanted to talk to Ny after he came back from the worlds and we’re still waiting for Higgins’ medical clearance.

Sutter will leave Tuesday for Philadelphia to attend the GM meetings.

“There’s no big radical changes being put forth,” Sutter said.

“Brendan (Shanahan) wants to look at it again because he was part of the guys involved with the players who ratified the rules. He wants to see what it looks like from the other side.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca


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