Flames Release Ryan Wilson; Kulak Makes The Team

Following last night’s pre-season finale, the Calgary Flames made a roster move today.

They officially released defenseman Ryan Wilson from his professional try-out. As a result, it appears that rookie Brett Kulak has made the opening night roster as one of the team’s six healthy defensemen.

Wilson, 28, played 5 pre-season games with the Flames and gradually looked more and more out of place as the pace of the games sped up. Wilson’s only played 32 professional hockey games over the past two seasons due to injury, and that became readily apparent as the pre-season wore on. His counterpart, the 21-year-old Kulak played a pair of games in
Penticton and then five of Calgary’s pre-season games, and actually
seemed more at-ease on the ice as the games got more filled with actual
NHL players.

As a result? The Flames end up starting one of their own draft picks on their opening night roster rather than bringing in a veteran from elsewhere to fill in for a bit. It also appears that the Flames will begin the season with six defensemen, which may or may not telegraph their move (or lack thereof) with their goaltenders.

The Flames officially have 27 players in camp: 3 goalies, 8 defensemen and 16 forwards.

  • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

    Good . I was wondering what everyone was seeing in Wilson.I thought Whotherspoon and Kulak were better.

    On another note it looks like BB got his truculence fix yesterday by signing Drr to the Heat. 477 NHL games /24 points.

  • mk

    I called this last week while all the advanced stats folks (Kent, Ari) were saying Wilson should and would make the team based on corsi (of course) numbers from his past. It made absolutely no sense even after Brodie was hurt to keep Wilson.

    100% the correct move by the organization, Kulak (and Wotherspoon & Nakladal) are more than capable of filling in until Brodie is back (and eventually Smid). Once TJ is back they either keep Kulak up as the 6th Dman and move Engelland to the 7th Dman spot…or Engelland stays as the #6, Kulak gets sent down to the AHL so he can actually play and they bring Nakladal back up to be the 7th Dman.

    We did not need to sign Wilson, we were already at 47 or 48 contracts. Excellent decision by management. Let our kids play and develop.

    Lets get this season started already, go Flames!

    • First Name Unidentified

      I’ve been calling this too. If they passed on Schlemko, I could not see the sense of Wilson. So what that he could clear waivers, why pay a full time nhl salary down in Stockton & which young kid that needs the minutes to develop in Stockton is getting bumped to play Wilson because you are paying him NHL money.

      Time is a GM’s best friend & BT needs all the time he can get to get a market for one of his goalies. That means running 6 D in Calgary until that happens.

  • First Name Unidentified

    Very exciting news! Finally the club is showing full commitment to the process of drafting-developing-producing good young players. He will have 15-20 games to out-play couple established nhl players on the team. Brodie’s return could spell the end of his time here. Good to have such a logjam of talent on the D

  • Derzie

    This was the right move, glad BT and Hartley took their time and got it right.

    Great opportunity for Kulak, and this once again proves the motto “always earned, never given”. Well done Kulak, quite the journey that kid has been on over the past year.

    I guess we found out who this year’s Josh Jooris is.

    Go Flames!

  • Derzie

    Good decision by management, we have depth at the Defensive position already, Wilson was not required and certainly not worth using up a contract on, of which we only have a few remaining.

    So the obvious question now is: Does this mean 3 goalies start the season with the big club…

  • McRib

    I would rather have Ryan Wilson on this team than Deryk Engelland & Ladislav Smid, but Brett Kulak made Wilson more than expendable and with our pro contacts hoovering around the 50 max think it is best to hang on to a few spots in case something good comes up this season with other prospects or in CHL or NCAA Free Agency. If the Flames get in a major bind with injuries who knows this may even open up a chance to see Oliver Kylington at some point with the big club.

  • First Name Unidentified

    In a few years, Anderrson, Kylington and Brandon Hickey will be pushing the vets for spots too…the future all of a sudden looks pretty awesome in terms of our depth at Defence going forward.

  • McRib

    This is good news, Kulak earned the spot and has room to grow compare to Wilson you is trying to get his career back on track after bad injuries. Seeing a draft pick on the blue line is a big deal as the Flames have had a poor draft record over the years. Kulak is mobile and has some offence, which adds to the already mobile defense group, his play last night proved that.

    Now I wonder where Wotherspoon fits in if Kulak has supplanted him, he may become the odd man out in a trade especially if Russel is signed to an extension. Hopefully Spooner hangs in with the teams plans but there are others guys knocking at his door step, time will tell I guess.

  • McRib

    I thought Wotherspoon was very meh this camp, especially when you consider his age relative to the younger prospects. He now has Kulak in front of him, with Kylington and Morrison biting at his heels and Hickey and Andersson coming. It doesn’t look good for him. He was awful in limited duty last year too, and it’s clear Hartley doesn’t trust him.

    Perhaps now is the time to deal him with his waiver eligibility fast approaching, and his value starting to drop.

    • McRib

      Wow, your reading way to much into that. Hartley simply said told Wotherspoon “you need to be harder on yourself”.

      Exact quote. Yes, that is a message to the player to push himself more but to take that quote and turn it into the “team is down on him” is quite the conclusion drawn on your part.

      You’ve made it clear you don’t like Wotherspoon but creating positions like this out of almost nothing to help justify your own feelings toward the player is extreme.

      • McRib

        I’m not reading any more into that than the media did. Hartley also refused to play the guy last year when any other option was available to him. His comment was a definite criticism. He refused to play the guy down the stretch last year.

        I never said I didn’t like Wotherspoon. I said he’s been leapfrogged by several players, slid down the depth chart, and is rapidly approaching waiver eligibility (my exact words). This is an asset management decision. You won’t get anything for TW once he’s waiver eligible.

        Don’t put words in my mouth.

        • First Name Unidentified

          They used a vet in his place (Potter) to play about 5 minutes average per game. Potter played 2 playoff games, while Spoon played 6 games.

          Kulak outplayed him in camp, while Nakladal was about equal.

  • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

    While buying hot dogs for my son at Winsport during the second scrimmage of training camp, I told Steinberg that “If Kulak isn’t careful, he’ll end up making this team”.

    All on the “eye test”.

    Take your corsi and “stick it” where it belongs!

      • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

        That Corsi is useless and not required as an evaluation tool despite what the authors here who are paid to promote corsi (like a stock broker is paid to promote certain stocks) say…pretty sure that was the point.

        Hard to argue, hockey has been played for 100 years and the sport got by just fine without it…

        • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

          Yet teams are employing people to dive into analytics… The analytics crowd won, the war is over. Teams are using analytics in contract negotiations and expanding methodologies to scouting at pro and amateur levels.

          The human race survived for centuries without malaria pills. Doesn’t mean they weren’t an improvement on the status quo.

          PS another “we told you so” for the analytics crowd with MacDonald on waivers. Is this a look into Russell’s future?

          • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

            Most rational people aren’t saying that the “new” statistics have no meaning. What we are saying is that it is a complimentary tool to go along with the eye test.

            Corsi is just such and ineffectual stat to base a decision on a hockey player on.

            For Corsi, a Stamkos shot from the slot is given the same value as a wrist shot that dribbles onto the net from the far blue line.

            This is why Corsi is Useless as a stat.

            Or how about player A is on the ice for a minute 20 all while spending considerable time chasing the puck in his own end as the attacking team pass the puck around looking for quality scoring chances (because they can) and direct 1 shot at the net, and at the end of each shift player A manages to finally get the puck after being in his own end without the puck for a minute, skates to the red line and flips the puck on goal. Player A just had a neutral corsi shift making him a “possession” dynamo.

            Player A isn’t going to pass the eye test though, is he? But if you were just reading a spread sheet how would you know?

            I don’t need Corsi as a stand alone stat, it is built in as part of my eye test without me even knowing what the heck it was.

        • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

          Ignoring analytics is why players like Brian Bickell get paid four million per for no reason whatsoever. The Blackhawks waived him last week, by the way.

  • mk

    I’m disappointed – not that the Flames let Wilson go, but rather that he didn’t have a better showing. I liked him as a player and thought he’d be an important part of the Avalanche defense (a few years back). I guess time has marched on and he’s had some hard years that don’t show well.

    Excited about Kulak making the team! He had a good camp and could make a case to be on the team more permanently if one of Engelland/Smid ever leave (via waivers, trade or FA).