Friday: Kulak has cleared waivers and will now await his Monday arbitration hearing.
Thursday: The Calgary Flames have placed Brett Kulak on waivers today as they prepare for an arbitration hearing on Monday with the restricted free agent. This type of transaction often occurs before an arbitration date when the team is confident they can get a player through the waiver process without claim, in order to establish his relative value around the league.
Kulak, 24, played 71 games with the Flames last season but averaged fewer than 13 minutes a night while not seeing almost any powerplay or penalty kill time. That limited his offensive contributions to just eight points, and will hurt him in the arbitration negotiations next week. Still, Kulak is coming off a one-year two-way minimum salary contract, something that he clearly deserves a raise on if only a slight one. If Calgary intends on using him again next season on a regular basis, they could ask for the arbitrator to award a two-year deal knowing that the cap hit would be reasonable. That would take Kulak to 26 and still leave him a restricted free agent at the conclusion of the deal.
If the young defenseman was placed on waivers in a few weeks, there may be several interested parties. He’s shown enough to prove that he can be relied on as NHL depth, and there have been flashes up real upside to his game over the last few years. There is a problem for any inquiring team though, and that is the arbitration hearing that is the reason for waivers in the first place. Any claiming team would not be given an extension and would have to present their case on Monday like Calgary is preparing to do. Though certainly possible, teams might not believe they can adequately argue his potential salary with just a weekend to prepare. That, and the still in-flux nature of most NHL rosters has led Calgary to believe that Kulak will pass through unclaimed, something that will be determined tomorrow.