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Stempniak optimistic as he heads into the off-season

Wednesday, 04.11.2012 / 2:39 PM MT / News
By Torie Peterson  - CalgaryFlames.com (@toriepeterson)
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Stempniak optimistic as he heads into the off-season

CALGARY, AB -- While his future is far from certain, pending UFA Lee Stempniak is feeling optimistic as he enters the off-season.

"It's exciting," the 29 year-old said.  "It's one of the few times you can sort of pick where you want to go."

Stempniak and his agent haven't had a serious conversation with Flames general manager Jay Feaster but is hopeful the two sides can sit down in the near future to talk about getting a deal done.

"I would like to come back and I think there's some mutual interest. We'll just sort of see where it goes from there.

"I've really enjoyed my time here, really enjoyed playing for Jay (Feaster) and Brent (Sutter)."

Stempniak was acquired in a trade with the Phoenix Coyotes for veteran centerman Daymond Langkow. The forward put in 61 games with the Flames this season, scoring 14 goals and 28 points.

His season was hampered when he suffered a lower body injury, forcing him to sit out for 21 games in the middle of the year.

"I felt like I was starting to play well and get on a roll ... to be out for 21 games, it's hard," he said of the malady. "I've never missed more than, I think, three or four games with an injury. To miss 21 games is a lot. It's definitely frustrating."

After returning on Mar. 18, Stempniak struggled to produce offensively as he worked on getting his timing back in his game. In his first eight outings, he recorded just two points and and picked a minus-three rating in that span. Near the tail end of the year, his game started to pick up but it was too little, too late for the Flames as they had already been missed the cut for the postseason.

"It's fine now," Stempniak said of the injury. "I'm forunate there have been no setbacks. It was definitely a disappointing part of the season."