CALGARY, AB -- Joe Colborne was excited to come home when the Calgary Flames acquired the Calgary native from the Toronto Maple Leafs in late September.
Now he’s eager to stay.
Colborne, one of four restricted free agents to close out the season with the Flames, is hoping he and the club, via president of hockey operations Brian Burke or a new hire that inherits the general manager’s position, can quickly come to an agreement on a new contract.
"I’ve tried to stay away from that as much as possible, but I know that Brian and my agent have a very good relationship . . . and the intent is there,” the 24-year-old said. “I’m sure now that the season’s over, they’ll, hopefully sooner rather than later, get talking."
It’s not hard to fathom the interest in negotiating a new pact is mutual.
For Colborne, the 2013-14 season brought him home and saw him suit up for 80 of 82 games after skating in just 16 through the first three years of his professional career. It didn’t take long for the 6-foot-5, 213-pound pivot-turned-winger to establish career-highs in goals (10), assists (18) and points (28).
"Not too many people get to say they can play for their hometown,” Colborne said. “It’s been dream come true for me. It’s been an awesome year. There’s a lot of excitement building, especially with the way this team’s moving and the young guys we’ve brought in and an unbelievable leadership core. It’s an organization going the right direction."
For the Flames, their investment of a fourth round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft has already yielded 10 goals, 18 assists and 28 points and has shown the progression to provide much, much more.
It’s a similar return Calgary has seen out of Paul Byron, only the initial investment has been nothing but time.
The 5-foot-7, 153-pound forward suited up for 47 of his 81 career games in 2013-14, earning seven of his 11 and 21 of his 29 NHL points in the process.
Though the Ottawa, ON native isn’t from the area, he’d like to keep calling Calgary home.
“I want to be a part of this team,” said Byron, whose one-year extension signed last season is set to expire, though Calgary retains his rights. “I want to be back. I love the coaching staff, I love the city and hopefully there’s a spot for me here.
“We haven’t had any talks yet. I know the GM job is still vacant and they’re probably searching for that guy. It’s up to my agent and the team to worry about that. I’m not too worried.”
Nor is Lance Bouma, who is in the same boat as both Byron and Colborne.
Bouma is slated to become a restricted free agent alongside the pair and is coming off his best season to date with five goals and 15 points in 78 games. Each individual total amasses to a career high for the 24-year-old from Provost, AB.
"I love it here,” Bouma said. “I want to stay here. Hopefully, it gets done soon. But who knows?"
It’s not so cut-and-dry for TJ Galiardi, though.
Like Colborne, the Calgary native returned home in 2013. Unlike Colborne, Byron and Bouma, though, Galiardi struggled to match career totals, never mind establish new ones.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound forward managed just four goals, his lowest total since an 11 game stint in his rookie year. His 17 points in 62 games was just three more than his total from the lockout shortened season and 22 short of his career-high established in 2009-10 with the Colorado Avalanche.
Without a contract for next year, Galiardi isn’t sure what to expect.
“Whatever happens, happens,” he said. “Things always seem to work out. Whether that’s here or somewhere else, I guess we’ll wait and see.
“I’m just going to take it day-by-day this summer. We’ll see what happens. I talked to [Burke]. They said they’re going to try to figure everything out.
“I think they need some time to work things out and then they’ll let me know.”
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