Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Arbitration filings show Flames and Brett Kulak are far apart

The Calgary Flames and Brett Kulak have a date on Monday morning in Toronto, as their salary arbitration hearing kicks off at 9 a.m. Both sides filed their arbitration briefs earlier today and a report from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman indicates that the two sides are quite far apart.

And by “far”, we mean $500,000 apart.

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Kulak spent the entirety of last season on the NHL roster while working on a one-year, two-way contract making a league minimum of $650,000. His camp desires a raise. The Flames? They would like Kulak to continue to make league minimum, in theory because he hasn’t accomplished a whole lot in the NHL as of yet.

It’s worth noting that the Flames re-signed Dalton Prout to a one-way, $800,000 deal for this coming season despite Prout spending the majority of last season in the minors (or as a healthy scratch). But also remember from the outside, contract negotiations are contentious, often wildly illogical affairs.

Expect Kulak’s 2018-19 salary to be somewhere in the middle of the two asks, either via negotiation or by edict from the arbitrator.

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  • Cheeky

    So the team signs a fringe NHLer/ very good AHLer (Czarnik) to a 2 yr $1.25mil per way contract, then offer up league minimum (then waive him) to a guy you have developed and trusted last year in your defensive pairings for majority of year. I’m not surprised that he’s asked for over $1mil…Somehow I can’t see this ending well….

    • FuNky ANGER

      The difference also being that over 20 teams were interested in Czarnik which the Flames had to then pay up to win him over. They also feel he could finally break out in the NHL as he was a top scorer in the AHL. Kulak never dominated the AHL and he just cleared waivers where any team could have acquired him for free. Also UFA compared to RFA

      • Cheeky

        Not disagreeing Funky, but that’s July 1st for you. I’m sure if Kulak was a UFA that day, a few teams would have offered contracts. My point was Kulak is a more established NHLer than Czarnik (AHL accomplishments don’t matter in NHL), knowing that contract given out, he’s not going to accept league minimum now…

  • MDG1600

    It seems hard to explain how Prout gets $800K on a 1 way and they offer Kulak $650K on a 2 way. I’m having a little trouble figuring out how the Flames envision the 5-7 portion of the defence line-up this year. Is Prout a lock as the guy chained to the pressbox as a 7th D and Anderson/Kulak/Valimaki and Kylington compete for playing time as the 6th D? And the 3 who miss out go to the minors to play?

    • Kevin R

      I dont think Prout belongs in this conversation. He was given the $800K 1 way deal to basically do what Bartkowski did, pressbox & when he gets the games, be functional. Difference is Prout can go toe to toe with the heavy weights. I would think this would be the route that makes the majority on FN happy & invest in a little more youth & speed & skill on the 4th line. I dont care what anyone says, you need to have a Prout element accessible on your team, we have teams in our division that just hate us & are dirty, ie Oilers/Ducks. Kulak could potentially be outplayed by either Valamaki or Kyllington for the left side #6 spot. Prout was reported to play pretty good in Stockton, who knows, he may be more effective than Kulak come training camp. If we want to be a contender, then everyone has to be better, right down to the #6 D spot.

      • Kevin R

        Who knows, maybe the plan is to keep Stone & move Andersson to the left side in the #6 spot. If Prout is in the #7, Kulak will get waived & sent down to the minors & may get picked off during the season anyway.

        • MDG1600

          I think you are probably right. The whole way this Kulak arb hearing has gone down seems to indicate that he doesn’t really fit in to the Flames long term plans. Unless Anderson, Valimaki, Kylington and Prout all suck a$$ in the pre-season I can’t see Kulak being in the Flames organization past Christmas.

  • supra steve

    In a league with a salary cap and elite players eating up as much as $12.5 million, guys like Kulak will continue to make more modest amounts. Unfortunate for Kulak, but even at $650K, he will be making a lot more than most of the rest of us. It’s the system the player’s association agreed to, and unless union members like Kulak exert themselves at the next contract negotiation, the elite few will continue to set their families up financially for generations to come while the Kulak’s of the league take home what’s left.

  • everton fc

    I’ve read all the comments below. I agree with many. My reaction;

    They are screwing Kulak. Plain and simple. He played 71 games in the NHL last season, and played well. He rarely hurt us. To give Czarnik more is a joke – there’s no guarantee Czarnik isn’t another Lazar, at the NHL level. I am disappointed in the way Kulak’s been treated. He seems a decent guy. A two-way contract is a slap in the face. The offer of league minimum is, as well. If I were Kulak, I’d either ask for a trade.

    If he’s not in the Flames plans long-term, why not move him? The only reason he cleared waivers is probably due to the timing – I can’t imagine a team like the Oilers not scooping up a solid 5/6 defender, even for 1.5mill/season.

    I hope Kulak walks out w/1mill for 1 year, one way, has a great season, then tells the org, “pay me what I’m worth, or I’ll move on”. And if he does move on, we’ll regret it. This is one time I root for the player, over Treliving. Prout’s certainly not worth more than Kulak.

    The year he was sent down after a little over 20 games, he probably could have stayed up and done well. The organization felt Jokipaaka and Bartkowski were better options. They were wrong then, and may eat crow this second go-around. I’ll bet Kulak shows much better than Kylington, at camp.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Maybe it is symptomatic of the club not having enough faith in its homebrews. The Czarnik signing pretty much ensures that one of the Stockton forwards who might have made the big team this fall will remain a Heater. When Lazar was traded for, he immediately made the Flames despite being terrible in Ottawa. Was Lazar really better than any of the Stockton guys at that time?

      It seems the Flames would rather go outside the org to stock the big team rather than graduate Heaters. It’s an odd philosophy, especially now that the former coach of Stockton is now behind the bench in Cal.

    • Cheeky

      EFC – fully agree, seems to be no confidence in the prospects or it’s the new shinny thing syndrome….wish for once they would allow these prospects an opportunity (we all know regardless of training camp, it always comes down to contracts over play.)…

  • SouthernFlame

    Prout is a player that sticks up for his teammates, BT probably brought him on because of the Lucic incident with Smith, none of the D wanted to step up. Gonna be fun to see what unravels at camp and in the preseason!

  • Flames Fan in Edmonchuck

    Here’s the thing, all negotiations are situational…. Kulak simply has no leverage. No draft pedigree, no extended NHL success to speak of, just cleared waivers, prospects at his heels….. this is EXACTLY the guy you squeeze….. not personal, just business. If he has hurt feelings, well winning helps things….. here’s hoping they can settle this and he can get over what has surely been a bit of an ego blow for him….

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Based on your argument, Hanifin should be able to jack a long term dealthat matches or exceeds Dougie’s. His draft pedigree was huge, has improved on his metrics each of his three seasons despite being partnered with less than stellar partners and made one half of the best defence duo over the last two seasons expendable. How can Tre look the kid in the eyes and tell him he’s worth just 2 years at $2.5M a pop? Asinine.

      • Willi P

        Easy, Tre does because he can. CBA rules say so. It’s about the team, not the player. Just because the idiot GM’s in Edmonton and Buffalo cave doesn’t mean the rest should.

    • withachance

      Contracts are signed based on the timing. Right now, the defence depth in the organization is the highest, combined with Hanifin and Tkachuk’s impending deals, Kulak’s cap value to the Flames is simply at the league minimum. That’s not to say Kulak is the worst defencemen, just that he fits the best right now at the league minimum and the Flames can justify it.

      Brouwer was signed as a FA, historically a 40pt scorer, and no one really knew he was immediately going to fall off a cliff. We get it, he sucks at playing hockey. He’s getting paid too much. Move on. He’s leaving the team next summer regardless so why waste time talking about it?

      • FL?MES

        It’s just the idea of it all. Kulak was a dependable 3rd line D-man. He was not flashy but did his job and did it well. Hopefully he walks out of this with a raise for his effort ($800-$900K). I get that it’s a negotiable and the final figure will likely be somewhere in the middle but $650 is a kick in the balls.

  • Toofun

    Kulak was a positive surprise for me last year but Calgary is in an interesting position this year with Anderson and Valimaki and I respect the team for negotiating as hard as possible in this situation to gain as much flexibility as they can from this situation.

    One of these kids will play their way onto this team. If it’s not Kulak, I don’t think anyone would be able to look back and say he didn’t get a chance.

  • Stockton's Finest

    Everyone continues to tout Kylington on this site. I am telling you he is not as good as you guys think. Kulak is much better. So was Wotherspoon and Andersson. From what I have seen on video, even Valimaki is better right now.

    I have watched Kylington in person for 2 1/2 years now. He does not impress me. I know his point total may reflect a different persona, but how many of those are secondary assist points? He does not defend as well as others and is even hesitant to shoot at times. He has speed, which is a plus. But if Andersson is in Stockton to start the season, it will be him and Valimaki as top pair. I don’t think Kylington will be top pair as long as Valimaki is with the Heat.

    I know some people here in Stockton who also feel the same way (read into that what you will). If he were to be packaged in a trade, no one would be shocked.

    As for Kulak, I can see a one year, two way $900K contract. That gives flexibility to bring someone up and wave Kulak to see if he gets picked up or joins Stockton.

    • freethe flames

      SF your insight on the Heat players is always valuable. Have you confirmed when you are coming to the great white North this year. I’m trying to convince my family to take a few days and visit your fine region mid February. Thinking we fly into San Franciso and then come down one night and see the Heat play.

      • Stockton's Finest

        Still figuring that out. It will be in 2019, as my vacation days at work are all accounted for this year.

        Let me know when you come and I will swing tickets your way. If you want a home and home with San Jose, they only play once on Feb 1st and 2nd. But there are other dates where you could catch back to back home games. February only has 4 home games, but there is a Sat/Sun against Colorado on the 16th and 17th.

        There are 7 dates in March, all weekend games with 2 Fri/Sat sets.

    • piscera.infada

      I know his point total may reflect a different persona, but how many of those are secondary assist points?

      Kylington’s primary points per game was identical to Andersson’s. It was also higher than Kulak or Wotherspoon’s have ever been. If there’s one area where Andersson in measurably better than Kylington, it’s in generating about a shot more per game. They also shot at basically the same shooting percentage.

      I get you just don’t like Kylington, but none of the stats back up your claims. I still think there’s a considerable amount of confirmation bias when people watch him. However, I always have liked the player, so agree to disagree, I guess.

      • The Real SlimBrodie

        I for one can watch a player play on TV and get a completely different feel from someone who is watching live. I guess I have a benefit in some ways because I can rewind. Sometimes the media can skew my perception of a player though. Great job letting us know about the prospects Sf. I’ll bide my time though and trust in pro scouts to sort through the capable players. Ps I never trash you I respect your contributions to this site too much unlike ww’s once he has a hate on he looks for any way to strip a great player down .

      • Stockton's Finest

        @piscera, I don’t hate him. He brings some good qualities to the ice. My only “criticism” of Kylington is that after 3 years in Stockton, his game has not progressed, IMHO. Last year there was a notable upgrade in Andersson’s game from the year before. Wotherspoon’s as well. But Kylington’s game remained the same. I would have expected a little more from player who is starting his 3rd year as a pro.

        I will harken back to a particular play that still is engrained in my mind. On the power play, he had a clear path to shoot from the circle. Instead he telegraphed a pass to Goloubef, which was picked off and lead to a breakaway the other way and Goloubef took a hooking penalty to avoid a short handed chance. To me, that is either lazy or lacks confidence.

        Many people on this site have been touting his play. Sometimes the eye test is best. He just doesn’t look like he is ready for Calgary. Maybe this off-season is different and he comes to camp on a mission. Would I trade him? Not particularly, but I would not rule it out.

    • everton fc

      We are all so high on Andersson, as well. Time will tell, and I think he’ll do fine here… But Kulak has already proven he’s capable here. I think the organization is beginning to forget it once used to be all about giving young guys a chance, when earned. What has Kulak done to be basically told, “You’re expendable?” And what has Andersson done, at the NHL level, to make Kulak expendable?? What has Czarnik done a the NHL level to make him so coveted? He’s 26. He’s hasn’t stuck in the league, yet.

      I wonder about this organization, sometimes…

  • Off the wall

    Tyler Wotherspoon signed with St Louis for $ 700,000 on a two way contract.
    His salary is guaranteed at $400,000
    Wotherspoon will no doubt be happy with his situation, especially considering these events…

  • deantheraven

    If you saw any interviews with Brett last season, you saw a guy who wasn’t convinced he had a permanent spot on the NHL roster.I remember one where he specifically mentioned it, saying something like “If I’m gonna stay in this league”. Call it lack of confidence or whatever, or maybe coaches/management were feeding him this “two-way status” to push him, but he seemed like a guy who was uncertain (to say the least) about his future in the NHL. To us here, he looks like a guy who can play. To him and Tre, he’s not hard to replace.
    Personally, I think it would be a great thing if someone like Kyllington or Valimaki show better in camp and push him down the rotation. Nothing against Brett, just business.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Would be shocked that the kid wasn’t a bit spinney on last season’s dysfunctional team. Brouwer getting regular PP time and Dougie not, Lazar one game playing first line minutes and the next game a fourth liner, Monahan playing night after night despite multiple injuries requiring surgical repair, and the list goes on.

  • Parallex

    That’s a stupid ask on the Flames part… they’ve already offered him more (QO). I hope the arbitrators roll their eyes and find closer to Kulak’s number.