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Pending free agents optimistic about future with Flames

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- Jakub Nakladal would be on board.

Joe Colborne, too.

And though their contract situations differ greatly, both have eyes on remaining as members of the Calgary Flames for the foreseeable future.

“I wish to continue here because I really like it here and I’ve had a great time here,” Nakladal said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen in the summer but we’ll see.”

Nakladal, finishing his first season of hockey in North America at age 28, is set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

Colborne is set for restricted free agency when his two-year contract expires in a little over two months.

Like Nakladal, his desire to remain with the Flames is strong.

That, perhaps, is understating it.

“Oh yeah,” started Colborne, a native Calgarian. “I’ve said it before, but I’d like to spend the next 10 to 12 years here. I’d love to be part of the group that brings a Stanley Cup back here. It’s obviously the end goal for us and I believe in our core group. I believe in guys like [Mark Giordano] being our core leader. He’s the backbone of this team and he can put a team on his back and carry us. You look at the young nucleus we have and it’s an exciting team to be a part of and I’m hoping to be a big part of it.”

Colborne and fellow forwards Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Josh Jooris, Drew Shore, Turner Elson, Kenny Agostino and Freddie Hamilton, defenceman Tyler Wotherspoon, and goaltender Joni Ortio are all set to become restricted free agents.

With a long list of pending signings that includes the young nucleus of Gaudreau and Monahan, the 26-year-old Colborne knows to be patient.

“I’d like to get it done sooner rather than later,” Colborne said. “I understand there’s some other guys that will be getting some pretty good raises here that are probably the most important thing for them to take care of.”

The contracts of Gaudreau and Monahan could impact Calgary’s remaining offers, including retaining those set for unrestricted free agency.

Nakladal, forward Derek Grant (Group VI), and goaltenders Karri Ramo, Jonas Hiller and Niklas Backstrom will all be able to sign with any of the 29 other NHL teams when free agency opens.

Two, Hiller and Backstrom, won’t be back with the Flames.

Decisions are pending on the remaining group, as general manager Brad Treliving dissects a disappointing season that featured a 10-win, 20-point drop compared to the one a year ago.

“There’s three ways to improve,” Treliving started. “You bring someone in from the outside, potentially improve by eliminating somebody on the outside. More often than not it’s growth, internal growth, from the people that you do have. That was a big message here today. Every summer is an important summer. This is a very critical summer for all of our group, our organization. We’ve got to improve.”

Nakladal and Colborne hope to be a part of that solution.

“I understand it’s a business, I’ve been traded twice, so I know what that’s like,” Colborne said. “You learn pretty quick that you’re a commodity that can be dealt. I’m just hoping that we can figure something out.”

“I don’t know, I cannot say right now if I will be here or not,” echoed Nakladal. “I think we will see in the next couple of months.

“I hope. I don’t know. It’s my big wish to continue here.”

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