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Contract extension lets Treliving keep building Flames around youthful talent

Treliving hopes to keep building on youth

Brad Treliving wasn’t worried that his contract was coming to an end as general manager of the Calgary Flames.

The Flames were not about to let go of the GM who has led them to two playoff appearances in the three seasons since he was hired in April, 2014, after missing the post-season the previous five years.

“You’re glad it’s done but I was always confident it would get done,” Treliving said Tuesday. “This is where I want to be.”

The Flames signed Treliving to a multi-year contract extension on Monday, which will allow him to continue a rebuilding project centred on the team’s core of young talent.

The main job this off-season, as it was last summer, will be securing the goaltending position.

Brian Elliott had a slow start, then was excellent late in the season as the Flames pushed for a playoff spot. But he was heavily criticized for some soft goals as the Flames were swept in the first round by the Anaheim Ducks.

Elliott and backup Chad Johnson are due to become unrestricted free agents. Treliving may try to bring both back.

“They’re both up and we’ll review it and look at what our options are,” he said. “I think both goaltenders are responsible for us getting in the playoffs.

“Chad was excellent early when our season was in danger of falling off a cliff and, at the end, Brian was as good as anyone in the league.”

Treliving made sure to lock up his top young stars last summer when he signed Sean Monahan to a seven-year contract worth US$44.6 million and Johnny Gaudreau to a six-year deal worth $40.5 million.

The potential restricted free agents this year include youngsters Sam Bennett and Curtis Lazar, as well as Michael Ferland. 

Treliving said Bennett in particular is “part of that core” of young talent he hopes to build on.

“It’s a young group that’s growing,” he said. “We added some veteran players that really helped our team this year but we know we have to get better.

“We have to get better internally and in our external moves.”

One internal improvement arrived at the 2016 draft when they got forward Matthew Tkachuk sixth overall.

Decisions must also be made on impending unrestricted free agents Kris Versteeg, Derek Engelland and Michael Stone.

Moves Treliving has made since taking over as GM include signing top defenceman Mark Giordano to a long term deal, acquiring rearguard Dougie Hamilton from Boston and replacing coach Bob Hartley last summer with Glen Gulutzan.

“Brad has done a good job in leading our club and has clearly earned this reward,” Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation president Ken King said. “We have great faith in our hockey operations structure and we look forward to continued and improved results.”

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press