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FlamesNation Mailbag: ‘Tis the (pre-)season!

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Photo credit:Mike Gould
Ryan Pike
2 months ago
The Calgary Flames began their eight game exhibition schedule on Sunday evening, ending the practice-heavy portion of training camp and starting head-long into a process that will end with the club announcing their opening roster on Oct. 9.
As the pre-season begins in earnest, we dive into the mailbag!
Before we get into this, let’s just get this out of the way: Oliver Kylington’s missed last season due to mental health challenges that he disclosed to Swedish media earlier this summer. We don’t know the precise nature of the delay of his start to training camp, and we’re not going to speculate – and we appreciate everybody else avoiding speculation and respecting his privacy.
Preamble out of the way, here are the things we think we know:
  1. Kylington spent the entirety of the 2022-23 season on the injured/non-roster list. His contract counted against the Flames’ team cap hit and he was never placed on the long-term injury reserve list.
  2. Because Kylington spent all of the 2022-23 season on the injured/non-roster list, our understanding is his contract would count against the Flames’ team cap hit if he began this season on injured/non-roster list. (He would count against the cap, but not against their 23-man active roster limit until he’s activated.)
  3. Because Kylington has been on the injured/non-roster list for as long as he has been, there would be a mechanism for the Flames to send him to the Calgary Wranglers on a conditioning stint before activating him. Most likely, this would be via what’s termed by the CBA as a “Bona Fide Long-Term Injury/Illness Exception Conditioning Loan.” The Flames would be allowed to send him to the AHL for six days or three games (whichever is longer), with the possibility of extending it for another two games if the commissioner’s office approves.
  4. We think that Kylington would need to be placed on the long-term injury reserve (LTIR) list to be eligible for such a loan, and that would allow the Flames to functionally replace him with player(s) of an equivalent cap hit. (We won’t get into the nuts and bolts of LTIR, because it’s weird and complex.) Players need to be out for 24 days and 10 games to be eligible, but LTIR can be invoked retroactively so he might not necessarily need to miss that much time.
The basic gist of the LTIR conditioning rules is to give a player that’s missed a bunch of time a chance to see if they’re ready to play without circumventing the waiver processes. Once the LTIR conditioning stint is over, any waiver-eligible player would need to be activated from the injury reserve and placed on waivers to go back to the AHL for anything beyond the very limited conditioning stint period.
So that’s the long way of saying “Yeah, it’s possible.” But it goes without saying that the preference for everybody involved is not needing to go down that road.
Let’s get this out of the way first: Ilya Solovyov has turned into a really nice pick-up for the Flames. He was drafted in 2020 in the seventh round in his third year of draft eligibility, and he’s turned into a really good hand. Since being drafted he’s played a year in the KHL and two years in the AHL, progressing pretty steadily into a reliable, low-risk shutdown defender.
He’s 23-years-old, carries a $828,333 cap hit and is waiver exempt this season. His play has earned him a shot at NHL minutes. His contract status, and the flexibility that stashing somebody as good as he is in the AHL, probably keeps him in the minors. Jordan Oesterle and Dennis Gilbert both have NHL experience and require waivers to send to the AHL.
So the question with Solovyov would be: would you want a 23-year-old blueliner to sit as the seventh defender (while risking losing Oesterle and/or Gilbert on waivers), or would you rather keep him playing and improving in the AHL? If there’s injuries and you’re short players, Solovyov would definitely be a good option. But the dynamics of everybody’s contract status and relative ages definitely conspire against him right now.

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