Flames recall Tyler Wotherspoon, demote Brett Kulak

The Calgary Flames made some adjustments this morning with the recalling of Tyler Wotherspoon from the Stockton Heat (AHL). With that of course, someone is going down to the AHL and it’s Brett Kulak. Both defensemen are still relatively young, with some upside, and opportunities in their game but it’s Wotherspoon’s time to hopefully shine.

This is yet another opportunity for Wotherspoon to possibly find himself in the lineup and make a positive on-ice impact.

With Kulak heading down, there should be some worthwhile discussion about evaluating the growth and development of the Flames’ fourth round pick in 2012. There were significant positives found in his game through 15 games, primarily his skating ability and ability to contribute positively to on-ice shot metrics (52.7% CF at 5v5).

These attributes are things that are worthwhile – even in limited showings – and it’s a step in the right direction. There is still reasonable uncertainty about who and what Brett Kulak will pan out to be, but there should be some optimism that at some point in the near-future he should get another look.

That said, with every rookie in the game there were the standard growing pains with Kulak. That is not to say he struggled mightily and regularly, but there were some expected holes in his game. And with him not playing, being a healthy scratch since Nov. 27 it’s an opportunity for Wotherspoon to potentially step into the lineup.

Wotherspoon’s showcasing last season through 11 games was silent, but there were some promising results including a 53.17% CF at 5v5, primarily playing with Deryk Engelland on the third pairing. Like Kulak, he did find some success with Engelland and it’s a possible spot for him if he plays.

With Stockton this season, like his showing last season with the Flames, he’s been relatively under the radar with a goal and five assists through 19 games played. Wotherspoon – like Kulak – is still in the same uncertain boat. Is his ceiling strictly a third pairing role? Or is there any semblance of hope in his existing skill set and trajectory so he can become a second pairing guy?

  • redhot1

    Maybe they could try him with Brodie. Put Wotherspoon on the left side, and let Brodie go back to playing his stronger off-side. Wotherspoon could be the steady half of a solid second pair. Let Brodie skate as much as he wants.

    Let Jokkipakka and Engelland stay together, and sit Wideman for a game to see how it works.

  • Kevin R

    Hey Mike! Isn’t Tspoon subject to waivers if we want to send him down after a few games now? I think he is. So if he plays well, the only way Kulak get back up is if there is an injury or we risk losing Tspoon. Now just for fun one can speculate a bit here, either Tspoon is getting showcased or more likely maybe something is in the works for Wideman & then we would be able to bring Kulak up. When is the Chrsitmas trade freeze?

    While I am throwing some speculation out there, I thought Bouma is really close to returning. With the Canadiens having a bit of crisis at centre for the next almost 2 months, they need to find a relatively inexpensive solution. I know rumour sites like throwing big names out there but Canadiens don’t have the cap space & then what do they do when these guys come back at the end of January. Where Bouma could maybe be a good fit. A 2nd round pick would be a nice little catch for a player that is becoming redundant in our lineup with how Hathaway & Hamilton have been playing.

      • Kevin R

        Sometimes we have a little bias with the value of our own player, negatively & positively. I would never of thought Glencross could get a 2nd & a 3rd or Berra could get a 2nd or the huge haul we got for Russell. Not out of the realm, he’s not a rental, he’s plays with a lot of grit & he is known to be fearless on shot blocking, probably why he gets injured so much. So yeah, seriously.

  • Parallex

    Probably don’t intend to change the line-up anytime soon and Kulak’s already been sitting for a while so may as well get him into some games in Stockton.

    I think management has to feel good that they have a legit NHL’er in Kulak and won’t have to overspend on the UFA market for a Jokipakka/Wideman/Engellend replacement next offseason.

    • cjc

      If you think LV isn’t going to pay attention to eligible players in the minors, you are mistaken. LV needs to populate a minor league roster as well (possibly in a share with another team). Also, they don’t want to carry a tonne of salary into their first season. If anything Kulak will draw more attention in Stockton because he’ll actually be playing.

  • kittensandcookies

    As Flames’ fans we’re not used to having minor leaguers actually become bona fide NHLers, so I know this seems weird, but in fact having AHLers come up and down, play a few games and sit some out, is in fact something that is common elsewhere.

  • cjc

    I think they figure Kulak is almost a year younger and needs to play a bit more. It’s easier to justify benching Wotherspoon since they have a better read on him, he hasn’t much more development in him.

    Doubt he sees that much action while up. In the eyes of coaches & management, he is probably the 7D. Maybe he gets some games in to keep him hungry, but otherwise they aren’t going to mess with a good thing.

    • KiLLKiND

      Maybe management view him as a potential Engelland replacement? He did decent enough last year and is defensively responsible. He doesn’t put up many points, but neither does Engelland and he would be a fine 7d behind Kulak, (insert bottom pairing RD acquisition here) and then a homegrown #7 D who would be very cheap. He isn’t too old as defensemen generally take longer than forwards to do develop with goalies taking the longest.

  • Ole YELLEr

    Makes sense Kulak needs ice time, but so does tspoon so I hope he gets to play some games. I’m pretty sure tspoon’s contract expires this year on top of his being waiver eligible. That may well mean this call up decides his future with the team.

    I think Tspoon is a legit 6/7 dman now and could possibly work in a 4 role on the left side of Brodie or Hamilton. I think Brodie makes the most sense since tspoon has the size to help Brodie clear the net.

    I hope he does well, I’d like him to be a full time flame by next season.

  • jakethesnail

    Key words Mike: “..if he plays.” TSpoon has experience sitting as the 7th D-man with the Flames; may only be used in case of injury to one of the others.

    It would be nice if there was a trade in the works and Wideman was sent packing!