Flamesnation Prospect Profile: #13 Ryan Culkin


Checking in at number 13 is another prospect that may have slipped your mind with the onslaught of new shiny, swedish defenders: Ryan Culkin. After a very promising start to his first year as a pro Culkin suffered an R rated injury to his wrist that required surgery, ending his season.

Culkin appeared as Black Ace during the playoff run (whoa, that feels cool to write) but was simply focusing on rehabbing his wrist. As with Agostino yesterday, here is a prospect who will be trying to build on the progress of last season.


Ryan Culkin was drafted in the fifth round of the 2012 entry draft, and was considered to be a smart, skilled puck mover projected in the third or fourth round heading into the draft. During his time in Junior, Culkin played for the Quebec Ramparts for the majority of his career and finished with the Drummondville Voltigeurs in 2013-14.

Culkin consistently put up points in his junior career, leading Quebec in scoring among defenders during the 2012-13 season as an 18 year old. The next season, Culkin was named captain of the Ramparts put up 44 points in 65 games between Drummondville and Quebec. 

Last season, Culkin turned in a miserable preseason and looked completely out of his depth among NHL regulars. It seemed as though Brett Kulak and others had firmly supplanted him in the pecking order of Flames dmen. However, Culkin turned pro with Adirondack and got off to a fantastic start for the baby Flames. 

Culkin was on a tear during the first few months of the season and put up 18 points in his first 37 professional games. Culkin ended up leading the baby Flames in scoring among rookie defenceman which is to say he outscored John Ramage as he was the only other AHL Flames rookie who played a significant amount of games. 

However, Culkin’s 2014-15 season ended abruptly and in a grisly fashion on February 6th. Culkin’s left wrist was gashed by an opponent’s skate during a 4-2 loss to the Utica Comets. Culkin suffered tendon damage and had to have his wrist surgically repaired days after the injury. 

Culkin recalled the injury during an interview with the Herald’s Scott Cruickshank: 

“I could see blood, my veins — I saw everything,” said Culkin, adding that his parents, sister, aunt and uncle happened to be in the stands. “One of the grossest things I’ve ever seen. I knew right then it was bad. An unpleasant memory.

If it wasn’t for that injury, Culkin may have merited a call up to the big club last season but instead, Culkin was relegated to rehab and the press box. A truly disappointing end to a promising season. 


Culkin’s lone AHL goal is in this strangely silent highlight package. Bonus footage of Ferland scoring and Sven being hit as well!

It seems as though Culkin is a smart dman and a good puck mover who can reliably put up points so long as he stays healthy. However, at every stage of his career there have been questions about his strength, an issue that Culkin is adamant that he is working on. 

This is a pretty important year for Culkin as with a new crop of freshly drafted defencemen entering the organization this year, if Culkin is going to have any sort of NHL future, he will have to play very well at the AHL level this year and out-play other dmen like Kulak, Wotherspoon, Morrison, and Nakladal for a chance at some NHL playing time.

I took a look at his output in a very small sample compared to some of his teammates in Adirondack last season and here’s what it looked like:


As you can see, Culkin’s sample wasn’t very large so it is hard to say anything really intelligent about his numbers last season, only that he was producing a good number of shots per game for a first year pro before his injury. Oh, and Nolan Yonkman isn’t very good.


This Drummondville sweater is insanely badass.

Our own intrepid Ryan Pike garnered this quote from Adirondack head coach Ryan Huska about Culkin earlier this year:

I think his overall play and I think once he, as you mentioned, at the beginning of the year, tough again… he was trying to find his way. He managed to put together a number of games back-to-back-to-back where he played really, really well for us, to the point where we put him with Corey Potter as the top pairing that we used against the best lines, and he still had some power play time and he was still killing penalties. So he was probably at the higher end of the minutes-played for our defensemen most nights, and he became a guy that we trusted in all situations. So he was having a great year and I would be willing to be that if the unfortunate injury didn’t happen, he would’ve seen games with the Flames this year for sure.

  • JMK

    Yahoo back to a hockey story instead of politics and economics.

    Culkin could really be a wild card for the Flames this season based upon his half season in the AHL. I like d his play at the development camp and there is plenty of potential there. The defensive core in the AHL looks good and will need time to develop.(This is a good thing) Lets say that Nakldal and Spoon push for the 6/7 spots on the big club. This leaves the AHL team with Kulak, Culkin, Morrison, Kylington, and Kanzig all getting quality ice time in the AHL along with a couple of AHL veterans.

  • JMK

    Culkin and Kulak will always be linked for me. Both left handed shooting D selected 19 picks apart.

    Digging both of them, loving the stocked Defensive cupboard!!

    • JMK

      as well as a healthy .5ppg in their first year in Adirondack. Granted only 26 and 37 games for each but pretty awesome to see how Kulak lit it up in the ECHL and than got promoted to good reviews.
      Culkin injury was unfortunate and curious to see how each progresses from here

  • JMK

    Culkin and Kulak will always be linked for me. Both left handed shooting D selected 19 picks apart.

    Digging both of them, loving the stocked Defensive cupboard!!

  • JMK

    I missed Sieloff in my earlier post. How quickly he seems to have dropped out of our general discussions. This is a huge year for him to try and live back up to his potential. Year 2 for him after recovering from his terrible health issues. I wish him good luck. We still could use a couple of R handed defenders in the organization. If Nakladal makes the big club and I think he will be given every opportunity to do so that leaves us with only Morrison as a righty in the AHL.

  • JMK

    he will have to play very well at the AHL level this year and out-play other dmen like Kulak, Wotherspoon, Morrison, and Nakladal for a chance at some NHL playing time.

    I’d add Kylington to that list. He’s played more games in the SHL than Culkin, Kulak, Stevenson, Sieloff and of course Morrison have in the AHL.

    I’ve never been a fan of Culkin, but he had an impressive season. Hope he keeps it up.

  • JMK

    Speaking of defenders there was a discussion about resigning Schlemko while I was away. I thought he played well for us after we acquired him, but as noted above most of these prospects are L as is he. Looking at the low cost UFA’s that are still available what do people know or think of the following as alternatives to Schlemko: Bellmore 27 r, 115 NHL games 6’4 225 or Bickell 28 r, 76 NHL games 6’4″ 210.

  • JMK

    I thought Culkin was fantastic. That said people really understate how well his west-coast soul-mate Kulak played at the end of the year when he went down. 12 points in 20 games with plenty of poise. This idea that Culkin “pulled away” from Kulak is untrue, there was a 4-5 game sample size and Kulak got demoted. Okay, fine. He took the demotion like a pro.