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Photo Credit: Sergei Beleski/USA Today

Flames re-sign Tyler Wotherspoon to one-year deal

One down, one to go.

As we quickly approach the start of training camp – the Penticton Young Stars Classic is only three days away! – the Calgary Flames still have a bit of housekeeping to do in the form of re-signing some young restricted free agents. One item is sorting out Sam Bennett’s new contract, which has not happened yet.

The other? Getting Tyler Wotherspoon re-signed – which he now is, to a one-year, two-way deal, worth $650,000 at the NHL level.

This is a good, cheap, “show us” deal for Wotherspoon, who enters his fourth contract with the Flames. It’s a slight bump in pay from his 2016-17 salary, which saw him carry a $625,000 cap hit at the NHL level. Wotherspoon only played four games in the NHL this past season, however, registering no points.

He played 56 games for the Stockton Heat in a top role, scoring six goals and 18 points: the third highest-scoring Heat defender, after Oliver Kylington and Rasmus Andersson.

If you’re thinking, “Hey, this sounds familiar,” then you’re right – it’s the exact same contract Brett Kulak has. And this comes as something of a reminder that the Flames’ sixth defenceman has not yet been officially decided, nor has the seventh, for that matter.

The three assumed contenders for the two remaining spots in the Flames’ backend lineup are Kulak, Wotherspoon, and Matt Bartkowski. Kulak should have the biggest edge to be a regular, but nothing is set in stone – and if Wotherspoon can come roaring out to a strong camp, then he could find himself at long last with an NHL job, something he has yet to establish with 30 NHL games played over four seasons.

Bartkowski has an edge to perhaps stay on the NHL roster due to his status as a veteran – while Kulak and Wotherspoon have played 30 NHL games each, Bartkowski has played 235 – and just how easy it would be to have him not play. He’s not really an investment at this point; Bartkowski was acquired to fulfill a quota for the expansion draft, and at 29 years of age, he isn’t about to get any better.

Then again, Wotherspoon, 24, may himself be running out of chances.

Either way, this is a simple, smart signing for the Flames. If something befalls Kulak – perhaps injury, perhaps simply not being at expected levels yet, perhaps something else entirely unforeseen – then Wotherspoon is likely the next most NHL-ready defender the Flames have who should be able to fill a bottom pairing role with little issue. And at the same price tag, the Flames can be free of any cap headaches.

  • Just.Visiting

    I hope that Tspoon gets a fair look for a roster spot, even in the 7th spot.

    I think that Valimaki may be a darkhorse for the sixth spot, particularly if there were an injury in camp. Everything I’ve read seems to indicate a game without any obvious holes other than experience. While Kulak would be unlikely to clear waivers to allow the Flames to run with a nine game test drive, Tspoon and Bart likely would clear waivers.

    • supra steve

      “I think that Valimaki may be a darkhorse for the sixth spot”
      A very, very, very, very darkhorse, like midnight on a cloudy night dark. I think there is almost no chance he is with the Flames this year. Kid has to play, and he gets that in Tri-City (WHL).

      • BurningSensation

        I wouldn’t be quite so bleak about his chances. If he lights it up in pre-season tournaments and training camp, he could steal a spot. Tkachuk barged his way on to the team at a position already stacked with prospects, so Cgy Mgt aren’t philosophically opposed to the possibility a shiney 1st rounder leaps the pack.

        • supra steve

          Grabbing a spot at 18 years of age on the wing is MUCH more commonly done than as a D man. Players like Drew Doughty, Aaron Ekblad, and Jacob Chychrun have done it in the last 10 years or so. Bottom line…is Valimaki better off as the #6 man in Calgary or as a top line guy in the WHL? I think I know which way the Flames are likely to go.

          • supra steve

            By the way, when Ekblad, Doughty, and Chychrun broke into the league; they did so on clubs that were not very good, not on clubs reported to be among the deepest at their position in the NHL, as are the Flames.

          • BringtheFire 2.0

            Plus, is Valimaki better than the guys you just listed?

            I’m with you. I want this kid playing all the time, and that’s not going to happen in the NHL this year.

    • C Watson

      Funny you say that. Everbody pissed on me for saying Valimaki was a dark horse. Kulak, Wotherspoon, Bartkowski all lefties – all supposedly ahead of Valimaki. Cream rises to the top.

    • Joe Flames

      I hope he is that good, but there is no need to rush him. We have enough prospects who are ready for a shot, let Valimaki get some experience in the AHL first. Although it would be great if he blows the doors off and is so good that they have to keep him up to start the season.

      • Puckhead

        Valamaki may not be ready for the NHL – be patient. He is young, we have a good D corps, and make sure that he graduates to the NHL when he is physically and mentally ready.

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    Tre’s; “You all get treated the same contractually” philosophy is awesome.

    Plus, with this signing we can stop arguing about Sam and talk about this for a bit!

  • thymebalm

    There is almost no discernible difference between Wotherspoon and Kulak, and yet people treat Wotherspoon as a candidate to flame out and Kulak is somehow a lock for the 6th spot. Why?

  • freethe flames

    I listened to an interview with him today and it is clear he is totally aware of the situation and that his future is really up him. Good luck to him.

  • Stockton's Finest

    From watching both of them last year, I think Kulak is just a bit more polished. He plays a little faster. Spoon has a bomb of a shot though. When he is on the PP, he needs to let it fly more instead of trying cross ice passes down low. I think both would do well as 6/7, and whomever is not in Calgary will be on the top D line with Anderson or Kylington in Stockton.

  • Intercourse the Penguins

    Has the ‘Spoon scored a goal in the bigs yet? If he does score they should play Soundgarden’s “Spoonman” on the P.A. “feel the rhythm with your hands”. Also Jimi Hendrix’s version of “Johny be good” is way better than the original for JG”s next spectacular goal [I still think we should trade him for Wayne Simmonds and a prospect or pick]. They should also play Monty Python”s “He’s a lumberjack and he’s ok” during a lull in a nucks at flames game and show a lonely nuck jersey’d fan in the stands on the big screen. With karoake lyrics posted(LAMOJBISH- laugh at my own joke because I’m so hilarious).