— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) August 15, 2016
It’s not exactly the free agent signing(s) Flames fans are waiting for, but the team announced today they have re-inked 23-year-old defender Tyler Wotherspoon. According to the team site, the contract is a one-year, two-way deal, which is to be expected for a guy entering the “prove it” phase of his young career.
Wotherspoon is still an unknown commodity at the NHL level and he’s running out of time to convince the club he’s anything more than an AHLer. He appeared in 11 games for the team last year and looked comfortable in a depth role, but the truth is we don’t really know what kind of NHLer he might be yet.
The problem is Wotherspoon’s path to the show is blocked by a collection of veterans in Deryk Engelland, Dennis Wideman, Ladislav Smid and Jyrki Jokipakka. He’ll either need Treliving to clear out some dead wood before the season starts or a spate of long-term injuries to afflict the blueline to really get a shot.
If Wotherspoon can’t establish himself this year, there’s a good chance both parties will move on. With youngsters like Brandon Hickey, Brett Kulak and Rasmus Andersson (EDIT – And Kylington!) pressing for spots in the next few seasons, the Flames will likely decide to make room for the younger, more promising players. On the other hand, Wotherspoon taking a step forward will make it easier to cheaply replace guys like Smid, Engelland or Wideman, who see their contracts expire after 2016-17.
UPDATE: According to General Fanager, Wotherspoon is coming in at a rather cheap cap hit.
— General Fanager (@generalfanager) August 15, 2016
He certainly provides more bang for the buck than most of the Flames’ other bottom-three options.