Kronwall's fate lies in Flames' hands

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:41 PM ET

For a guy who feels like he's in a no-win situation, Staffan Kronwall still manages a smile.

The 28-year-old defenceman, one of eight Flames blueliners with one-way contracts, spent last season in the minors and knows he's likely looking at another year with the AHL's Abbotsford Heat unless something drastic happens.

"I don't know what to say. I think I need somewhat of a miracle to make the team this year," Kronwall said bluntly after skating with the minor-league group Thursday morning as he has been since camp began. "I know the situation, I think. I can't do much about it.

"I get the feeling that they don't have any plans for me on the big club this year.

"I respect that. I'll do my best every day trying to get better, and we'll see where it leads."

His preference since being sent down last year and earning his half-million dollars in Abbotsford is to play in Sweden if not the NHL, but his fate is in the hands of the Flames with one more season on his contract.

Loaning him to a European team is still possible, but Kronwall's expressed desire this summer to stay home with his family hasn't worked out that way so far.

"I'm not gonna lie. Yes, I was really much hoping to play in Europe this year," said Kronwall. "I got married this summer, and it was tough being apart from my wife last year. It's hard to be apart from your family, and I wanted to get closer to her.

"I was hoping to play in Europe this year. If not this year, it's obviously next year."

Coaches haven't said anything to the 6-foot-3 Swedish blueliner about his status or suiting up with the prospects.

"No, but obviously I get the sense. I'm not training with the big team, so it's no secret," Kronwall said.

Praising the play of rookie T.J. Brodie and Matt Pelech, who have both been skating with the big group, head coach Brent Sutter acknowledged Kronwall had a fairly good pre-season showing in Vancouver, where he scored a powerplay goal.

"Krons played pretty decent in Vancouver, too. It's just a numbers thing right now why he's not able to, hasn't been skating with the big group yet," Sutter said. "He'll get his opportunity there."

The team has tweaked its system to encourage more of an offensive presence from the blueliners on the rush, which suits Kronwall's style.

"That's one of the better parts of my game," he said. "I look forward to working on it."

If the team decides to send him back to B.C., the veteran would have to clear waivers first. If that happens, his hope is to land somewhere in the east that would use him in the NHL and allow his wife to visit more easily.

"I'm trying to play as well as I can ... If they decide to waive me, I'm obviously hoping someone would pick me up," Kronwall said.

"If not, I'd have to go to Abbotsford, I guess."

And despite his respect for the franchise, that's Kronwall's least favourite scenario.

"I'm not gonna lie, it's tough with the schedule and the travel there," the veteran said of playing with the Heat last season. "It's going to be difficult.

"I'm sure a lot of guys have been in this situation before. I'm not feeling pity about myself. Obviously, the situation could be better, but I'm positive.

"There's really nothing more I can do than to do my best."

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca twitter.com/MacfarlaneSteve


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