The Flames took care of another restricted free agent as they re-signed Mark Cundari to a one-year contract worth $660,000. It's a small pay raise at the NHL level, and at age 24, it may be Cundari's last chance with the Flames.
Cundari was originally acquired in the Jay Bouwmeester trade with the St. Louis Blues. When first acquired, the 5'9", 200 lb. defenceman played two games for the Abbotsford Heat, scoring three assists, before getting called up to finish the rest of the season with the Flames. There, he played four games, scoring a goal and an assist.
This past season, Cundari appeared to fall out of favour with Flames management. He played just 32 games with the Heat, scoring four goals and 10 points, before he was involved in an AHL-only transaction. While still Flames property, he was traded to the Chicago Wolves, where he closed out the rest of his AHL season, scoring five goals and 13 points over 24 games, as well as playing nine playoff games.
Because the Flames still held his rights, they called him up late in the regular season, and Cundari played an additional four games for Calgary. He was held pointless, however, and his ice time steeply dropped. In his four games during the 2013 season, Cundari had averaged 19:46 in ice time, but in 2013-14, he only averaged 10:47.
One of four AHL defencemen to be called up, Cundari appeared to be behind Tyler Wotherspoon in development. The younger d-man played more games and received more minutes than Cundari did in his NHL time (although Cundari did outscore him in the AHL). He received less ice time than Chad Billins as well, but with Billins now in the KHL, Wotherspoon appears to be Cundari's main competition on defence.
Cundari is the shortest of the current Flames defenceman. He's about an inch shorter than Kris Russell, but he's also nearly 30 pounds heavier. He may be able to fare at the NHL level. Last season, the Flames often utilized Chris Breen as a seventh defenceman, and if the Flames want Wotherspoon to play big minutes in the AHL, then it's possible Cundari takes that role.
With Cundari's signing, the only RFA the Flames have left to re-sign is Lance Bouma.
In addition to Cundari, the Flames also signed their first round pick, Sam Bennett, to a three-year entry level contract. Bennett has to play 10 NHL games before the first year of his deal kicks in; if he plays nine or fewer before the Flames send him back to junior (which they probably should), then his contract slides and the Flames will have at least one additional year where they will have him for cheap. Due to Bennett's later birthday, the Flames can send him back to junior for two more seasons; however, it's unlikely that happens to the fourth overall pick.