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Goalie's arrival crowds Flames' crease

Tabaracci may be odd man out for expansion draft

Eric Duhatschek, Calgary Herald

On the day the Calgary Flames acquired Ken Wregget to play goal for them next season, the question was put to Rick Tabaracci: Is this the end of the line for him?
"I don't know," replied Tabaracci. "I don't want to make any assumptions. I haven't been contacted, so I don't know if this changes everything or not."
Chances are, it does.
The Flames plan to protect Wregget in the expansion draft, meaning Tabaracci will almost certainly be available when the Nashville Predators, the National Hockey League's newest franchise, makes its selections next Friday.
On the other hand, Predators general manager David Poile traded Tabaracci to Calgary back in 1995, so he may prefer to select a different player from the Flames' list, perhaps defenceman Joel Bouchard.
Either way, the Flames didn't surrender one of their most consistent scorers, German Titov, in the four-player trade, so that Wregget can sit on the bench.
Counting Dwayne Roloson, J.S. Giguere, Tyler Moss, Tyrone Garner and Evan Lindsey, the Flames now have seven goaltenders in the organization.
They can't all play.
Wregget's acquisition, according to general manager Al Coates, gives the Flames, "a bit of an insurance policy here -- to make us better in the most critical area of our team and maybe in the most critcal area of the development of our team.
"Up until this past year, if you look at his record in Pittsburgh, he's played a lot, won a lot and had an awful lot to do with what they wanted to accomplish in Pittsburgh.
"We did a lot of research on this. There were only two or three veteran goaltenders who'd had lots of success in the past that could combine it with the leadership aspect to help a young team like ours."
Both Pittsburgh, coached by ex-Flames assistant Kevin Constantine, and Montreal made inquiries about Titov's availability last year. There was some thought that Coates could have acquired Wregget through Nashville and not have had to surrender as much in exchange.
"The view we took on it was that there weren't any guarantees unless we did it ourselves," answered Coates. "Come the 26th of June, somebody might look back and say, 'If you'd just waited, you might have done it this way.' But we didn't know that.
"I'm not a big Vegas guy in terms of gambling. I like to know where we're at in terms of where we're going in terms of a critical position. I didn't have any confidence that even if hewere left available by Pittsburgh and taken by Nashville, that we were going to get him. I prefer to do it this way."
The Flames were planning to leave Todd Hlushko unprotected anyway, so he was on his way out no matter what.
In Dave Roche, the other player acquired in the deal, the Flames clearly tried to add toughness. Roche didn't play a game in the NHL last season, but picked up 20 points plus 307 penalty minutes for the Penguins' AHL affiliate in Syracuse.
However, in his final junior season, Roche scored 55 goals in 66 games for Windsor, so he does have an offensive upside.
After Mike Peluso retired because of a neck injury and Sandy McCarthy was traded to Tampa, the Flames have room for an aggressive forward in their lineup. That's what coach Brian Sutter told Roche.
"Brian stresses physical play, physical presence," said Roche. "That's what I would bring to the game. I'm someone who likes to play physical, who likes to stir things up, where you tick the other guys off and they want to drop the mitts. That's something I'm not shy to do. I've done it pretty much my whole junior and pro career.
According to Coates, Roche, "got caught up a little in the transition of the coaching staff there. They came in with a new idea, a new system of what they were going to do and I don't think Roche, in training camp and in the early part of the year, was impressive enough to be part of that. But we like him. We liked him in his draft year. We like his size . . ."
Without Titov and with some uncertainty over Theo Fleury's future with the team, will the Flames score enough goals next year?
"Scoring wasn't a problem for us last year," replied Coates. "We ranked 13th in the league in goals-for and we were 10 goals short of being eighth. That wasn't an issue and we don't view that to be an issue next year because hopefully, we're going to see progression in some of the players that didn't reach (the 40-point) plateau."


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