Start paying attention to the ECHL, gang, because the Calgary Flames have finally put a player with a valid NHL contract in hockey’s AA pro league.
Earlier today, the Flames announced that they’ve re-assigned defenseman Ryan Culkin from the AHL’s Stockton Heat to the ECHL’s Adirondack Thunder. The Heat also released goalie Eric Hartzell from his try-out due to the arrival for Kevin Poulin. (The moves leave the Heat with 24 healthy players, including eight defensemen.)
Culkin, 21, suffered a shoulder injury during the Penticton YoungStars Classic tournament in late September and has been on the mend ever since. He’s finally recovered, but having missed all of training camp, the decision was likely made to give him a chance to get up to speed in a league that – while good – is a bit of a step down in latent from the American Hockey League.
Culkin’s familiar with the area, having played all of last season (prior to his nasty wrist injury) with the AHL’s Adirondack Flames in the same market and building. If nothing else, he’ll know where to park.
The Thunder boast an impressive 8-1-0 record through the regular season so far. They’re down in Georgia tonight to play the Atlanta Gladiators, then face the Greenville Swamp Rabbits tomorrow night before returning to Glens Falls for a 8am MT game on Wednesday that’s likely due to a school event of some kind.