Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/28/14
It’s not lost on Mark Cundari, of course. He knows full well that a handful of defenders have vacated the premises. However, even without those relatively seasoned presences — Shane O’Brien, Chris Butler, Derek Smith, Chad Billins, Chris Breen — Cundari isn’t expecting a paved path to the Calgary Flames’ opening-day lineup. Then again, the situation is quite tantalizing. “As of right now, being a guy who has been there in the past, who has played with all these guys ... I do kind of get the feeling that it has opened up a little bit for me,” Cundari said Saturday from his Woodbridge, Ont., home. “With them leaving, it does open up some doors for me — I’m not going to say it guarantees me anything — and it does give me an extra chance to perhaps take advantage of the situation in front of me. “But I know we have a lot of young talent coming up.” Cundari, 24, is the latest of the Flames’ restricted free agents to sign on the dotted line. He agreed to a one-year (two-way) pact — made public by an unprecedented 7:30 a.m. weekend news release. Centre Joe Colborne and goalie Joni Ortio also recently signed. “It’s not like being drafted or anything like that, it’s more of a relief for me to know that it’s finally taken care of,” said Cundari, whose AHL/NHL salary split is $125,000 and $660,000. “I can move forward and prepare for the upcoming camp.” The burly blue-liner did himself no favours last fall, showing up with an iffy cardio base. Coach Bob Hartley had not been impressed, ensuring Cundari’s early demotion to Abbotsford.
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