The Calgary Flames still have a lot of their plate this summer, looking to come to terms with a lengthy list of players which includes Noash Hanifin, forwards Mark Jankowski, Garnet Hathaway and Hunter Shinkaruk, defenseman Brett Kulak and back-up goaltending options Jon Gillies and David Rittich.
However, when it comes to the young blue liner Kulak, it seems like the Flames took a different route on Thursday, placing the 24-year-old defender on waivers a few days before his arbitration meeting. Calgary and Kulak were expected to meet with an arbitrator on Monday, July 23.
Kulak filed for salary arbitration at the beginning of July, a few days after the opening of free agency season. The defender has compiled 11 points (two goals, nine assists) over 101 career contests with the Flames. He chased in $650,000 on a one-year deal last season, which actually was slightly less than the average cap hit of his three-year, entry-level deal.
The Flames' move on Thursday appears to be part of the strategy moving forward. According to Pro Hockey Rumors, "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."
Besides Kulak, there are three other players on the Flames' roster who have arbitration meetings coming up. Kulak has the first meeting scheduled on July 23, followed by Mark Jankowski on July 27, David Rittich on July, 28, Garnet Hathaway on July 30.
The Flames were able to come to terms with newly acquired centre Elias Lindholm, who would have been set to meet with them on August 1.
Kulak played 71 games last season with the Flames, tallying two goals for a total of eight points in roughly 13 minutes of ice time per game. The young blue liner is known to be a serviceable bottom-pair defenseman, who could fill that role for Calgary once again next season. The Flames are trying to establish his value with today's move ahead of more negotiations. Showing that Kulak cleared waivers prior to the hearing is primarily an attempt to diminish the Kulak camp’s negotiating strategy.
We will see what happens next...