In a move that may mean something or may merely be a depth shuffle, the Calgary Flames announced via press release that they have recalled defenseman Jakub Nakladal from the AHL’s Stockton Heat. He takes the roster spot of young Brett Kulak, who was returned to the Heat in a corresponding move.
Nakaldal is 27, from the Czech Republic and a right-handed shot. He’s also been very good for Stockton in both games he’s played in, putting up three assists. He probably would’ve made the NHL team out of camp had he not gotten his bell rung in a pre-season game in Denver. From that point onwards, he never seemed to get his momentum back. He heads to the NHL to potentially make his debut after stints playing pro in the Czech Extraliga, the Kontinental Hockey League and Finland’s SM-Liiga.
(Thankfully, nobody gave him the “best defenseman outside of the North America” kiss of death when he signed in May as a free agent.)
The 21-year-old Kulak heads back to the AHL with some confidence, as he played pretty damn well over the past couple of weeks. He played six games during this stint and was perfectly fine on a third pairing with Deryk Engelland. However, with Ladislav Smid getting healthy and Kulak probably headed to the press box, my guess is that management felt it was better to get him playing a lot in the AHL right away rather than having him hanging around the NHL team in the hopes that somebody else got injured.
Kulak asserted himself really well and outside of a few flubs in the last few games when the whole team was lousy, he looked like an NHL defenseman. He’ll be back.