Possibly the biggest news of last week – if it can be called that – was the departure of defenseman Clay Wilson. Wilson signed a deal with Donbass Donetsk, which raised a few comparisons and questions.
First and foremost, the big question was “Hey, didn’t he have an NHL contract?” I asked the Flames via e-mail and the answer amounted to “Yes, but it was terminated.” The timelines on the contract in the KHL and the termination are a bit fuzzy. If the Flames terminated the deal prior to Wilson signing in the KHL (e.g., they bought him out), there wasn’t any announcement that he had gone on or cleared unconditional waivers. However, there is a clause in the existing CBA that allows a team to terminate a deal if one of the parties is in breach (signing a contract with another league would probably constitute a breach.) Confusion aside, there is no loan agreement and Wilson is no longer part of the Flames organization. The Flames are now at 47 contracts on their reserve list for 2012-13.
Second, the departure of Wilson may leave the Abbotsford Heat a bit thin on the blueline. Then again, Wilson has already played over 500 pro contests and his inclusion on the Heat’s roster would’ve meant some shuffling due to the AHL’s development rule. Wilson leaving opens the door for an every-day role for another AHL veteran, or for the inclusion of more youngsters on the farm. As it stands, the Heat’s blueline will include notables such as Chris Breen, James Martin, Joe Piskula and a bunch of guys on AHL contracts.
Another Gio? Nah.
Lastly, there were a few comparisons being made between Wilson’s departure for the KHL and Mark Giordano’s following the 2006-07 season. Outside of their position and the league, these comparisons aren’t that relevant. Wilson is 29, while Giordano was 24 when he went to Russia. Wilson had a valid NHL contract in place, while Giordano was a hold-out restricted free agent. And Giordano had established himself (at 24) as an everyday NHLer and was bristling at signing a two-way contract, while Wilson is almost 30 and hasn’t established himself as anything more than an excellent AHLer as of yet. He’s played just 36 NHL games (for four NHL clubs), while Giordano played 48 NHL games the season before he went to the KHL.
All-in-all, the Wilson departure probably works for all parties. The player probably gets better money overseas, along with comparable ice-time. The Flames are able to shed an expensive one-way contract – only eight left on the books! And Wilson’s exit probably gives somebody a chance at better minutes and a bigger role in Abbotsford.