Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Flames re-sign Brett Kulak to one-year deal

Brad Treliving’s to-do list is getting a little bit shorter. The Calgary Flames announced today that they’ve agreed to a new one-year contract with defenseman Brett Kulak. The contract is a two-way pact worth $650,000 at the NHL level.

Kulak will be waiver eligible this season and a contract with a low NHL cap hit makes it more likely he’ll be claimed in the event he hits the waiver wire. When his deal expires, he will once again be a restricted free agent. The signing leaves the Flames with 43 contract spots tied up for 2017-18 and two remaining restricted free agents: Tyler Wotherspoon and Sam Bennett.

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Kulak, 23, is arguably one of the organization’s best developmental success stories over the past few seasons.

A fourth round selection in the 2012 NHL Draft, Kulak was a strong Western Hockey League defender but there were some questions about how his playing style could translate to the pro game. He progressed through all three levels of pro hockey in his first pro year, spending time with the Flames (one game), the AHL’s Adirondack Flames (26 games) and the ECHL’s Colorado Eagles (39 games).

His second year saw him open the regular season in Calgary due to T.J. Brodie’s injury, playing eight games before returning to the AHL to be a lynchpin for the Stockton Heat for the duration of that campaign. He spent 21 games last season in Calgary and didn’t look out of place before he was bumped down to Stockton by some roster shuffling.

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When we chatted with him at the end of Stockton’s season, head coach Ryan Huska had a lot of positive things to say about Kulak’s progression:

He’s one guy that when you look at playoff situations or our push to get into the playoffs, it’s a time when some guys will fade away into the shadows a little bit and it’s also a time when some guys will step themselves out from the crowd, become more noticeable and become a guy that you lean on, and Brett was one of the guys that stepped out from the crowd in my opinion and that’s a real positive thing when you look at guys, and their growth and their development and where they may get to over the next couple years. I was really pleased with his year. He did a lot of great things for us and he showed a real maturity in his game, both on and off the ice, for us. I think he did an excellent job this year and he’s going to make some tough decisions up top, for sure.

The Flames aren’t about to hand out jobs to anybody quite yet, but Kulak’s done enough to make the sixth defensive spot – on the left side of Michael Stone – his to lose as training camp approaches.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I am not sure what to think of this announcement as it pertains to Benett. I thought Bennett’s contract would be finalized before any other player announcements. Perhaps they are digging in with Bennett’s agent. This should be Kulak’s year to win a spot for the entire season.

    • supra steve

      I don’t see how this announcement “pertains to Bennett” at all. Tre is dealing with all these negotiations at the same time, when someone signs, an announcement is made. There is room to sign all 3 kids.

  • Styxx

    To achieve long-term success the Flames need to build a proven “draft & develop” pipeline, graduating 1-2 non-1st-rounders every year to replace older vets who in turn can be sold “high”.

    With the quality drafting the Flames have been doing the last 3-4 years Kulak should be the first of many 2nd – 5th rounders that are serious contenders to earn a spot with the team.

  • OKG

    Two-way doesn’t matter. He’ll play in the NHL next season. Whether that’s for the Calgary Flames or a different team *cough*Byron*cough* is up to Treliving.

  • SydScout

    Great signing and terrific value. Also helps that he plays on the third pair. If he’s as good as we all think / hope, next year won’t be super expensive either as he is likely to have been given minimal minutes. Problem will be if he shoots the lights out and we have an injury to TJ, Dougie, Gio or Hamonic…and he takes their spot….and succeeds. I have a feeling that he’ll be a Flame and a massive thorn in the Oil’s side for years.

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    Wow! I can comment again! Good to see this guy locked up, I think a Flames job (6th or 7th D) is his to lose! If a younger guyr two looks better he could be waived and lost however

  • TheoForever

    Good deal, happy for Kulak.
    Now, all he has to do is play equal/better as Bartkowski and he stays with the club as #6, as Flames will not risk loosing him on waivers.
    We could still end up with 2 rookies on the back end, which would be cool.
    If Spoon can be equal/better to Bartkowski then we got our new #6/#7.
    In case of Andersson, if he cannot be #6, Flames would most likely put him back in AHL and not in the pressbox.

  • Sound_Defence

    Still more than enough to sign Bennett and Jagr and some money left over for some wiggle room. I’m starting to think that Tre has something in the works and it includes Bennett being packaged in for a legitimate RW. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a deal with Colorado in September involving MD.

    • TheoForever

      Wouldn’t this just kill our salary structure? Duchene has 2 years left on his deal, and then what?
      The asking price was astronomical, last time around.

      • Sound_Defence

        $6 million is pretty reasonable to have a solid RW to go with JG and SM. Sakics price will come down. Bennett, a D prospect a Goalie Prospect maybe some picks I don’t know. MD is good but Colorado would have to be pretty reasonable in their asking price. This will be JS last year in Colorado if he doesn’t pull things around. He was a great player but clearly his ability to GM is in serious question. They had a great up and coming coach in Roy and JS screwed that all up. Maybe he best figure things out and not also over price his players which will screw him eventually in the end.

    • flames2015

      Agree with Theo. Duchene is also a center not a winger, get rid of Benett and bring Duchene in as a 3C making $6 million, or make him a first line winger and thus creating a whole at centre now? He’s also a left shot. Don’t see it happening.

    • BendingCorners

      Colorado has three good players and Duchene is one of them. Unless Joe’s plan is to suck for 10 years and draft the next two generational players, he would be foolish to trade MD. Assuming he is that dumb, a trade of MD + 1st round pick for SB + Rittich + Fox(?) becomes conceivable and might help Calgary a lot. MD can play the wing and would be a good complement for Johnny and Mony since Matt shoots more and is good at generating high-danger chances. Expensive though, and relies on Matt Stajan and Mark Jankowski doing a good job at 3C and 4C. But lines of Johnny-Mony-MattD and Micheal-Mikael-Micheal and Matthew-Mark(MattS)-Kris would make a darn good top nine. Not sure what it does to BT’s cap management plan for the next 2-3 years though.

    • Sound_Defence

      Careful chirping there buddy, you had a good year out of 11 shiite years I know you think you can beak off now after being the laughing stock of the entire league and the pun of all jokes hockey for over a decade. Flames would have to suck so bad for so long to ever compete with your historical record of being the absolute worst team in all professional sports for the longest consecutive period. You are one or two bad injuries away from being right back where you called home for ten or eleven years, you still have no legitimate depth. I don’t care how many cups you have over us or about your new tax payer forced funded arena, your city is gross, ugly and Oilers are the only good thing going for it. Take a hike Loser.

    • BendingCorners

      I know you like to get things going but I look forward to a BOA in the playoffs with the winner going at least to the Western finals and possibly all the way. Edmonton has Connor and Cam and Leon (if he builds on last year) but the Flames have Johnny, Mony, Matthew, Mikael, Doug, Mark G, TJ, Travis and – behind that stellar D two experienced goalies and three top-grade prospects. I think Calgary has the depth to win but either way it should be a great year and an exciting playoffs for both cities.

        • everton fc

          I’m a Flames fan forever… One one of the few who has never hated the Oilers… Our rivals up north will be a tough opponent, which is good for the province, and good for the NHL. I am very much looking forward to Ferland pummeling Nurse. And maybe even Lucic. We are not very tough w/o Engelland, though. Could be a problem for us. Which is why I see Hathaway and Lomberg as having potential call-up value. Outside Ferland, we lack real toughness. And no matter what anyone says or thinks, it still matters…

          • BringtheFire 2.0

            See, I agree and I’ve said as much on ON. A healthy Oiler squad has me very concerned.

            And toughness yes, always welcome, but at what cost? Always a dangerous road.

          • TheoForever

            Toughness is my concern as well, due to Engs departure we are missing a sheriff.

            As for Oilers, everything went well for them last year,no adversity.
            They were predicted to be bubble team and they performed much better.
            However, every year there is a team that goes back down to earth and I’m picking Oilers.
            Last year their defense was statistically bad but Talbot bailed them game in and out.
            This year they will be missing Sekera, therefore I’m questioning Talbot’s ability to continue to stand on his head.

          • TheoForever

            Oilers have good offense, but defensively that’s another story.
            The numbers were compiled by another contributor, this is an excerpt that talks about Flames/Oilers comparison.
            “Head-to-head, here’s how they stacked up last season:
            The Flames allowed:
            3.7% fewer shot attempts
            0.5% fewer unblocked shot attempts
            3.0% fewer shots
            10.7% fewer scoring chances
            13.8% fewer high-danger scoring chances

            Scoring chances went in 19.6% more often against the Flames
            High-danger chances went in 13.4% more often against the Flames
            Other shots went in 0.5% more often against the Flames

            To put it another way: had the Oilers received the exact same goaltending performance the Flames did, instead of allowing 207 goals (8th in the league), they would’ve allowed 239 (23rd). “

          • Trevy

            Not that he’s going to have any other major contribution, but everyone that’s concerned about toughness especially against the goons up north, forget we signed Gazdic specifically for those games. Should keep everyone in check

          • Andy61038

            And that’s the difference between a hockey fan and just a team fan. A hockey fan can say good things about their rival And talk accrual hockey. A team fan* coughs* oilers nation* coughs* just like to be cocky and tall about how they are greatest and everyone else sucks

  • everton fc

    This deal, which is amazing, as Kulak will be our # 6 defender unless he gets hurt in camp, has a horrific camp, or is traded. So Wotherspoon will get the same contract. What does that leave for Bennett and a PTO or forward signing??

    • Stu Cazz

      Your comment is very confusing….an amazing deal? Kulak will have to earn the #6 spot. How does Wotherspoon factor into this signing? There is plenty of room left for Bennett signing or other PTO’s…..

  • Puckhead

    I am thrilled that Kulak Is a Flame. I understand why Vegas took England – it was a good marketing move but a very poor hockey move. I lump kulak in with guys like Foo – gifts with unknown potential. I can’t wait to see how they do.

    Here’s to you Kulak ?

    Go ? Go!!!

  • freethe flames

    The 6/7 spot is Kulak’s job to lose. If he has a good camp I don’t see anyone taking it from him. The serious contenders are Bart(who I think would clear waivers if sent down), Spoon, Kylington who can be waived and Valimaki(who the Flames will not burn his entry level contract unless he is so far superior to Kulak that he can’t be sent down). So as I said earlier it is Kulak’s job not to be sent down.

  • DoubleDIon

    Brouwer could greatly enhance his value to the team by playing tough this year. Ferland is our only answer to problems right now. Another game middleweight would be a bonus. If he doesn’t, he can ride the bus in Stockton for 3 years and retire.

  • Kevin R

    My wish list for camp & to start the season is as follows:

    -Kulak plays solid & is guaranteed the #6 or #7 spot
    -Valimaki plays so good he earns a 9 game audition before being sent to the CHL
    -Kylington has an amazing camp & exhibition games & when Valimaki gets sent to CHL he & Kulak stick with the big club
    -Wotherspoon & Bart both clear waivers & in Stockton (assuming Tspoon is resigned & assuming there is a 35% chance Tspoon gets picked off on waivers)