D MARK CUNDARI
Size: five-foot-nine, 195 pounds
Home town: Woodbridge, Ont.
Last season: AHL Peoria Rivermen (56 GP - 7 goals, 18 assists, 80 penalty minutes), Abbotsford Heat (2 GP - 0 goals, three assists, 13 penalty minutes); NHL Calgary Flames (4 GP - one goal, two assists, two penalty minutes)
Camp thoughts: It's the gritty defenceman's first fall with the Flames and, frankly, there is no better time to jump right in. Spots are up for grabs and, after showing the organization a glimpse of the player he is during a four-game stint in 2013, Cundari is ready to make an impression from Day 1. "You want to stand out, for sure," he said. "You want to turn heads but you don't want to go over and above what it is you do. I tried to keep it simple (Thursday), keep the play in front of me, and try to be as good defensively as possible and turn it into offence if I can." Prior to joining Calgary at last year's trade deadline in the Jay Bouwmeester deal, Cundari had been in the St. Louis Blues organization since turning professional in the 2010-11 season. And, after getting a taste of the NHL for four games with Calgary last year, Cundari hopes to stick. Undersized (a knock on him his whole career), Cundari brings edge and a bit of toughness to the blueline. Assuming the top spots are sewn up with Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie and Dennis Wideman, he'll be in tough competing with Chris Butler, Shane O'Brien, Derek Smith, Chris Breen, Kris Russell, and an open stable of prospects. "For me," he said. "it's going to be consistency and not doing too much."
Easy. Same as every prospect. "My goal is to become a full-time guy here in Calgary," Cundari said. "I think the skill set is there, for sure. I'm shooting well ... for me, it's being physical every shift. Showing them fatigue doesn't affect me and that I can dig in and go the extra mile. And showing consistency."
Undersized, sure, but Cundari packs a lot of punch, especially in the corners.
"Finishing hits is a huge part of my game," he said. "If you hit guys and get them off their game, make them think, 'Oh, this guy is on the ice and he's going to go after me non-stop.' Make them think about me on the ice. Aside from being gritty, I like to join the rush and get up in the play. My main game though is to be solid defensively."
How far are you from being NHL-ready?
"I don't want to go off on a tangent and say, 'Oh, yeah. I can play here every day.' I think it's a bit too early to tell in camp right now. But I'm there. It's not about me proving to them I can play the game, it's being consistent and providing that spark. If I can establish that early, I stand a really good chance of making this team."
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