SUN Hockey Pool

Flames defenceman Pelech up for grabs

Calgary Flames Matt Pelech hits Vancouver Canucks Jordan Schroeder in second-period action during a...

Calgary Flames Matt Pelech hits Vancouver Canucks Jordan Schroeder in second-period action during a pre-season tilt at the Pengrowth Saddledome on Tuesday September 21, 2010. (Photo by DARREN MAKOWICHUK/Calgary Sun)

STEVE MACFARLANE, Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:36 AM ET

CALGARY -- Not all road trips are fun.

Flames prospects Matt Pelech and Jon Rheault packed up the car and headed from Calgary to Abbotsford Monday morning, armed with fast food, good tunes and mixed feelings.

Rheault was assigned to the AHL's Abbotsford Heat late Sunday, and Pelech was put on waivers Monday with those same intentions should he clear.

"I got put on waivers about 45 minutes ago, so 23 more hours to go," Pelech said with a laugh that might have been a little forced as the disappointment of not making the Flames was sinking in.

The 23-year-old's final destination could change this morning if another NHL club put in a claim on the Flames' first-round pick in the 2005 draft.

"For me, obviously, it'd be great if a team saw enough in me to swoop me up, because I know I'm capable of playing up there," Pelech said.

"But I've wanted to be a Flame ever since I got drafted. As of right now, I want to be a Flame. I want to play in the NHL for the Calgary Flames."

Both the big defenceman and the 24-year-old Rheault, a darkhorse winger who had a spectacular rookie camp and has become a promising prospect, expressed disappointment at having to leave town.

"It's not a good feeling to be sent down, no matter from where," said Rheault, who played for four different minor-league teams last season. "Unfortunately, I've had a lot of experience with that."

Looking at the positives, Rheault has come a long way from Providence College and an uncertain hockey future.

"If you said to me five months ago that I'd be one of the last cuts at an NHL camp, I wouldn't have believed it," he said. "I can definitely taste the NHL and see it."

For Pelech, the path has been different. He managed three assists in five games with the Flames in 2008-09 and has been on the brink of cracking the squad but suffered a bit of a setback last year when dealing with a dangerous blood clot between the right shoulder and his ribcage. It kept him to just 42 AHL games before coming to camp healthy after a summer of medication.

"I've felt like I've been on the brink for a while. I think I've been the last d-man sent down for the last couple of years. I feel like I've been right there," Pelech said. "I didn't achieve what I wanted to this camp -- my goal was coming in here and making the squad."

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