The Calgary Flames have finished some business as the season approaches, signing restricted free agent Oliver Kylington to a one-year, two-way contract. The deal is worth $787,500, the same number that his qualifying offer carried.
Kylington, 23, has long been an intriguing prospect for the Flames, but last season seemed to make the transition to true NHL defender if still often a reserve. Playing in 48 games, he recorded two goals and seven points while averaging just under 14 minutes a night, serving as injury insurance or change-of-pace and moving in and out of the lineup.
This year could be much of the same, especially if Juuso Valimaki proves healthy enough to contribute on a regular basis. The Flames lost several pieces from the blueline in free agency but brought back Chris Tanev to replace many of those departing minutes.
They also brought Nikita Nesterov back from the KHL, though it’s not at all clear so far how the team plans on using the veteran, who agreed to a league-minimum $700K contract. He could be Kylington’s main competition for playing time, or he could have been promised a roster spot in order to bring him back to North America.
At any rate, Kylington will surely get into some games with the Flames again this season and needs to do make the most of them. With no leverage in this negotiation, he was forced to take the qualifying offer amount, but next year he’ll be eligible for arbitration and could try to secure a raise. You need numbers to bring up in arbitration, meaning he’ll need to work hard to force his way onto the ice.