Deal in back of Gio's mind

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:45 PM ET

Mark Giordano closed a major deal this past summer when he tied the knot.

Flames fans want to know whether the Calgary defenceman will soon put pen to paper on another big deal: A new contract with the NHL club.

Giordano, who married his fiance Lauren in Toronto during the off-season, is due to become an unrestricted free agent after the coming season and will likely command a hefty raise following the final campaign of his three-year deal, which will pay him US$1.075 million this winter.

"As players, we always say we try not to think about it and just play our game, and that's what I'm gonna try to do, but obviously, it's going to probably come up and you're going to think about it a little bit," Giordano admitted before hitting the Country Hills course for the club's annual charity golf tournament Thursday. "Really, it's out of your hands. You leave it up to your agent and let him do the negotiating.

"I just want to play hard, play the same and not let it affect my game."

There weren't all that many highlights for the Flames last season, which ended without making the playoffs, but Giordano was one of them.

The blueliner, who'll turn 27 next month, had a breakout season with 11 goals and 30 points. He also led the club with a plus-17 rating.

Duplicating those numbers would be a very good follow-up for the defenceman whose game elevated by leaps and bounds after a season-long stint with Moscow Dynamo of the KHL in 2007-08.

Giordano expects last season to be a stepping stone to bigger and better things.

"You never want to say, 'I'll do the same thing.' You always want to get better and know there's room for improvement," he said.

"It's little things to work on all the time. You want to build on every year, and that's what I want to do.

"We didn't accomplish what we wanted to, so we all had that in the back of our minds through our training. It's exciting to be back and get going."

Outside of Calgary, and among some pockets of the faithful, there are those who don't see the Flames returning to the playoffs.

Their argument is an easy one to make. After all, it's a team which struggled to score last season and is leaning heavily on a pair of veterans who have had a downward trend the past couple of years in Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay to turn things around.

However, Giordano is insistent the club has the right plan in place.

"It doesn't matter if you made no changes. It's a new year and a chance for another opportunity," he said. "I think we have a great team and with the additions we made, have great depth."


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