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Flames waive Brett Kulak in advance of arbitration hearing

The Calgary Flames have reportedly placed defenseman Brett Kulak on the waiver wire, per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

The move comes in advance of Kulak’s arbitration hearing on Monday morning, which will determine the 24-year-old’s next contract.

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The waiving prior to an arbitration hearing is a bit of a rarity, but not unheard of. Essentially, the Flames are likely heading into the potential arbitration hearing arguing that Kulak is a fringe NHLer in an effort to keep his cap hit down. The Kulak side will be arguing that he’s a full-timer and making comparisons to similar players. Showing that Kulak cleared waivers prior to the hearing is primarily an attempt to erode the Kulak camp’s negotiating terrain.

In the event Kulak is claimed, the team claiming him would likely have to jump into a late-notice arbitration hearing (unless it’s Minnesota, who have a hearing with Mathew Dumba at the same time). There’s no definitive CBA rule for this situation, but hearings are originally scheduled so that no team or agent has multiple hearings at the same time.

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It’s unlikely that Kulak will be claimed, though, given that teams have spent the last month shuffling their rosters and acquiring new faces, and probably want to see how those new faces fare before adding even more of them.

    • The Beej

      I think so. How high could his salary be?

      He doesnt have any counting stats but still a useful guy you dont want to lose for nothing.

      Then again maybe the flames feel differently after acquiring Hanifin.

      Kylington and Valimaki have mouths to feed too.

      Then again maybe he clears and no big deal.

  • seamax

    Always amazed at how teams throw nickels around like manhole covers when it comes to certain (usually useful) players, and then blow it out the door on the flavour of the week (obviously types like Brouwer and Michael Stone, but also the Austin Czarniks of the world). Maybe his arbitration ask was absurd, but seems unlikely to me that would be the case.

  • Brian McGrattan's Salute

    I sincerely hope they’re not counting on keeping Stone and ditching Kulak. Brett has a much higher ceiling. This just seems kinda ugly to me

  • Cfan in Van

    Even before a contract is negotiated, I don’t think it’s debatable whether Kulak can provide great value for the Flames on a bottom pairing. They just need to make a spot for him to slot into, and the value will be there. Too much Stone, not enough Kulak.

  • supra steve

    I’m assuming they know what they are doing, but yes, it is a little surprising to see this player waived. I guess it tells us that Kulak’s ceiling is 3rd pairing LD. Also a good indicator that the club probably has Valimaki above Kulak on their depth charts already.

  • CalgaryBornandRaised

    Interesting, I’m not too worried about this, Valamaki and Kylington have a higher ceiling than Kulak, and one of them might be able to play this year on the 3rd pairing, Flames only have 7.65 mill to spend on Janko, Hathaway, Hanafin, Rittich and Kulak, so gotta watch the wallet

  • Rudy27

    “It’s unlikely that Kulak will be claimed, though, given that teams have spent the last month shuffling their rosters and acquiring new faces, and probably want to see how those new faces fare before adding even more of them.”

    It would be heartbreaking to see him picked up by Edmonton. He could probably be a second pairing there this year.

  • Joeyhere

    In order to strengthen their position and potentially save a few hundred k on a contract they will have poisoned a relationship with the player.
    If your boss did this kind of move to you – it would significantly effect your loyalty

    • Cfan in Van

      But most people’s contract negotiations don’t include routine arbitration hearings. Not exactly apples to apples when it comes to the way that NHL contracts are handled and your everyday job.

    • Derzie

      This right here. Cheap only works once. No one likes to be fleeced. Good managers strive for win-win. Alberta has an example of the two bad ones: team-friendly Treliving and Player-friendly Chia.

  • Longshot1977

    OK, here’s how I read this. After the Hanifin thing, the Flames have 4 “locked in” top-4 defenders in Giordano, Brodie, Hanafin, and Hamonic. After that, they have Kulak and Stone as “regular” NHL-ers and Anderssen in the mix.

    They also have Kylington and Valimaki making serious noise to get promoted. They’ve got a log-jam at defence.

    With that in mind, you gotta ask what you can do with those guys in 5-7 slots. They probably want to see more Anderssen and Stone is useful as a press-box guy.

    So what do they have in Kulak? He’s an OK 3rd pairing guy, right? What’s his ceiling, realistically…an OK-to-maybe-good 3rd pairing guy?

    So what do we have in the prospects? Both Kylington, Valimaki, and Anderssen (if we still call him a prospect) could be top-4 guys, maybe even top pairing.

    The sad truth is that while Kulak is an OK NHL defender in the right role, he’s kind of the odd man out in Calgary. This is especially true if we want to start promoting prospects.

  • Trevy

    If the Kulak camp is asking for an unreasonable number, then I’m ok with this tactic. Unfortunately for Kulak, guys like him are a dime a dozen. Don’t believe he’ll ever be a top 2 pairing

    • Hubcap1

      “Don’t believe he’ll ever be a top 2 pairing”, “guys like him are a dime a dozen”, words that no one here likes to hear. However, they’er much closer to the truth then FN fans realize. Don’t get wrong I like Kulak very much and he’s worlds better than Bartkowski, but he is very much a third pairing guy. He’s 24, 25 in January, and has produced 11 points in 101 games. The waivers are still a risk as you do risk loosing a good asset.

  • LannyMac

    Everyone has touched pretty much every aspect of this surprising move. He is a proven nhl caliber defenceman with upside. I am more inclined to think he will be picked up. Yes Kylington and Valimaki are promising candidates but in no way are proven nhlers. My question is why hasn’t brad dealt away Stone at this pt. Andersson has shown enough to prove he can play in the league. Trade Stone there is enough in the account for the rest of the RFAs

    • Trevy

      How do you know he hasn’t tried? Trades are easier said then done. Maybe the return wasn’t enough or there was no interest. Maybe he’s waiting for other pieces to fall first. Lots of variables in place

    • Flaming moe

      “Just trade Michael Stone”

      Michael Stones numbers last year 3 goals 7 assists. The year before 2 goals 4 assists.

      Who is trading for a guy who puts up numbers like that… especially at the cost of 3.5 million per year. Not some of Tres greatest work.

      • LannyMac

        Your right Moe and I thought it was a piece of cake what was I thinking. Thx for setting me straight. Listen if I’m Tre and I need some money to sign the remaining RFAs I’m not looking for return on Stone. I dont care what draft pick I get back and I may retain some money on the contract. It’s not about value it is about finding some financial wiggle room. Sarcasm aside I know my formula does not guarantee a dance pertner.

  • EhPierre

    This is quite a peculiar move to say the least. I thought Kulak, many times during the season, looked like Brodie-lite and was looking forward to him getting more minutes but with this move, it seems like he’s a lot lower in the depth chart in the eyes of Tre.

    Now, I feel like this move was only made because Kulak’s camp was asking for a number too high that would have made signing the remaining RFA’s a lot tricker to do so (i.e Hanifin’s contract). This move also signals to me that Tre seems to want to keep Stone, atleast for the start of the season. I really hope no one claims him and that Kulak doesn’t take it personally.

  • JoelOttosJock

    Really? People are worked about the worst dman put on waivers to hopefully sign for cheaper? If, and this is a BIG IF, he is claimed, it opens a door for Valimakki, or Andersson. Both of whom are already better but have a much higher ceiling.

      • JoelOttosJock

        I disagree. I am not a Stone fan,but he was better than Kulak in my eyes last season. Kulak peaked and valleyed more. Maybe part of his growing curve and having to play with Stone? I would rather the Flames let Stone and Kulak go and let Kylington, Andersson, and Valimakki battle it out for ice. Maybe even move Hamonic to the 3rd pairing.

    • LannyMac

      Give me an ounce proof Valimaki is better. How many NHL games has Valimaki played. Tell you what put the tip of your pointer finger to the tip of your thumb in a bent position and then get back to me. At this point im willing to believe that Valimaki has a huge amount of upside but so does every prospect until they make the team or get called up. As for Andersson to this pt he plays on the opposite side so how does that equate to Kulak.

  • First Name Unidentified

    Karlsson dilemma has put the whole league on hold to deal any defensemen and hence Stone has not been traded yet. This is my view, of course. I think Brad is waiting for the market to open up a bit and put Stone on the block. Decent chance he may end up on Ottawa.
    This move also tells me that Juuso and Oliver are pretty close. Kulak could have been included as a piece in a trade package though. He is good enough to be a regular D. Hopefully the Oilers won’t claim him.