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Flames pending UFAs look towards next season

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

It’s been a great ride coming here. I feel pretty lucky to have landed here. We’ll see what happens but I’d love to be back.David Schlemko

CALGARY, AB -- Raphael Diaz has been through this situation before.

The 29-year-old defenceman finished off the 2013-14 with the New York Rangers, going all the way to the Stanley Cup Final with the Blueshirts, and then entered the off-season as pending unrestricted free agent.

As the summer came to a close, Diaz hadn't signed with an NHL team and opted to head to Calgary to attend training camp on a try-out basis. He felt he had something to offer an NHL team and wanted a crack at landing a spot on Calgary's blueline.

The Swiss rearguard had an excellent camp and the Flames management offered him a one-year contract for his efforts.

The 2014-15 campaign started slowly for Diaz, sitting as a healthy scratch in many games early on in the year, but when he started to get more time, he excelled under head coach Bob Hartley.

He ended up playing in 56 games in the regular season, scoring two goals and four points in that span. He also got into the Flames' final three playoff games, returning from a lower body injury he suffered on Apr. 2.

Now, with the Flames season over, Diaz is hoping he can ink another deal in Calgary.

"Of course it would be really nice to stay here," he smiled. "It’s a really good group, a close group. Everybody works hard and I like that."

Like Diaz, David Schlemko is hoping for another contract with the Flames.

The Edmonton, AB native got into a groove in Calgary after a rough start to the season.

After spending seven years in Arizona's system, playing 207 games with the Coyotes, the defenceman was placed on waivers and picked up by the Dallas Stars. He had hoped the change of scenery would help rejuvenate his career but he never really got his footing with the Stars.

Placed on a waivers for a second time last season, Schlemko was claimed by the Flames in February and instantly gelled with his new team.

Playing alongside Diaz for the bulk of his time in Calgary, the 28-year-old helped stabilize the blueline after Mark Giordano's season-ending biceps injury.

"It’s been a great ride coming here," he said on Tuesday. "I feel pretty lucky to have landed here. We’ll see what happens but I’d love to be back.

"It’s a little bit of a weird feeling. In prior deals I have always signed deals before becoming a free agent. I’ve never been unrestricted so it’s kind of a new thing, we’ll see what happens."

For goaltender Karri Ramo, he is open to all options.

He enjoyed his time in Calgary, splitting time with Jonas Hiller throughout the regular season and playoffs, but understands the business side of things. Both sides will be need to satisfied on all fronts if a deal is to happen.

"I haven't really discussed it with anybody ... everything is open. I [didn't think] about it during the year, everything would take care of it self and I just had to focus on playing hockey. It's the same thing right now. We'll see what is going to happen but I'm sure whatever happens is going to be good.

"It's been our home for two years now. Change is always different and at my age, this stage of my career -- I'm turning 29 -- there's still a few years left. But do I want to change again? I don't know. We'll see."

The goaltending situation is in flux for the organization at the moment, with Hiller having one more year left on his deal, Joni Ortio's contract moving into a one-way deal in 2015-16, and Ramo a pending unrestricted free agent.

General manager Brad Treliving hasn't made a decision on what the goaltending situation will look like next season and will take his time going over every option available to the organization.

"As wise man once told me there’s only one net," Treliving said. "Carrying three goaltenders, you can do it for a short period of time, it doesn’t make sense.

"I think all three goaltenders have shown the ability to play. I thought we had good goaltending, but we need time to decompress, push away and think clearly about what we think is the best decision."

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