Thu Mar 27 10:36am EDT
As if there were any questions before, it now seems almost certain that Kristian Huselius will not be back with the Calgary Flames next season. Two of the Flames' three core players, goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff and defenceman Dion Phaneuf, will be in the first year of new, expensive multi-season contracts that feature big raises over their current salaries. With both Huselius and centre Daymond Langkow eligible for unrestricted free agency, there is little question which of the two general manager Darryl Sutter will actively pursue.
That leaves the little matter of what can Huselius provide the Flames in the time he has left in the organization, after coach Mike Keenan benched him for Tuesday night's pivotal game against the Vancouver Canucks, won 3-2 by Calgary.
Keenan didn't want to discuss the reasons behind his decision, but it was apparent that he didn't think Huselius was going to make much of a contribution in a game that Keenan was determined to make physical. Keenan could come back with Huselius Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers, a team that isn't quite in Vancouver's league physically, and that would give both a chance to keep the working relationship cordial. Huselius needs a decent finish, if he wants to cash in on a statistically good year (65 points in 74 games).