As we all know by now, the Calgary Flames have too many defensemen. It isn’t a bad problem to have, as it gives them plenty of options in terms of trades as well as plenty of depth on what is arguably the league’s most underrated backend.
Most believe at least one defenseman will be traded by general manager Brad Treliving before training camp. The Flames could use some more scoring depth up front and have reportedly kicked the tires on free agent Evan Rodrigues. That said, trading a defenseman may be enough to bring back a forward they like, rather than sift through the slim pickings left available in free agency.
Juuso Valimaki has been discussed a lot in trade rumours, though the 23-year-old’s value is quite low at this point, meaning the return for him should be minuscule. However, Oliver Kylington could bring back a decent haul.
Kylington, 25, was recently re-signed by the Flames on a two-year, $5 million deal after a breakout season of 31 points in 73 games. The smooth skating defenseman is prone to some questionable plays in his own end, but he is extremely gifted offensively and is capable of logging solid minutes. Here are three teams that could benefit from adding him to the fold.
San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks are in serious need of a left shot defenseman after Nikolai Knyzhov recently tore his achilles while doing off ice training. Even prior to him going down, their back end left plenty to be desired. While it wouldn’t completely fix things, adding Kylington to the fold would prove beneficial. Perhaps the most intriguing for the Sharks is that he is a young player on a cheap deal, making him a very good fit for what is a rebuilding team.
The Sharks are $2.1 million over the salary cap, but that won’t be for much longer as they are expected to trade either James Reimer or Adin Hill before the 2022-23 campaign. That would relieve them of any salary problems and would make them open for business to discuss a Kylington trade.
One player of particular interest to the Flames could be Alexander Barabanov. The 28-year-old is coming off of a 10-goal, 39-point season and this offseason signed the exact same two-year, $5 million deal as Kylington. He is a very skilled forward who can play either wing and would prove valuable on any line.
After winning the Presidents’ Trophy this past season, there has been some discussion about whether or not the Florida Panthers will be a playoff team in 2022-23. While their forward group still boasts plenty of talent, their blue line is creating doubts among analysts and fans.
As of now, the Panthers are counting on Marc Staal to be an everyday player on the third pairing, which is a big ask for a 35-year-old. Kylington would be an immediate upgrade and is arguably a better option than even Gustav Forsling on their top pairing.
An ideal trade candidate in return would be Eetu Luostarinen, who is coming off of a nine-goal, 26-point season. The 23-year-old still has plenty of untapped potential and recently signed a two-year, $3 million deal. If the Panthers aren’t willing to part with him, however, veteran forward Patrik Hornqvist could be an option worth pursuing if Bill Zito is willing to retain some money in what is the final year of his contract. While he is no longer the player he was with the Nashville Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins, he has the right combination of skill and grit that would prove useful in the Flames’ bottom six.
New York Rangers
Thanks to an outstanding 2021-22 season, expectations are sky high for the New York Rangers entering 2022-23. While those expectations are reasonable, it’s fair to ask if their blue line will be good enough to make them an elite team. At this time, they appear to be relying on Zac Jones and Braden Schneider to play regular minutes; a big ask given that they have only played a combined 65 regular-season games at the NHL level.
Bringing in Kylington would provide them with the depth they need and would allow one or perhaps both of Jones and Schneider to play more sheltered minutes. He would also provide them with yet another offensively gifted mind on the back end, which would be a tremendous option to have behind one of the best in the game in Adam Fox.
The ideal candidate, and one that you have to at the very least inquire about if you’re Treliving, is Filip Chytil. The soon to be 23-year-old has world class skill, but has yet to put it all together at the NHL level. That said, the Rangers likely aren’t willing to part ways with him just yet, meaning that Sammy Blais could be a player of interest. He was signed to a one-year, $1.525 million deal this past June, and would provide a ton of physicality along with some secondary scoring for the Flames.
Kylington Has Peak Value
While many Flames fans don’t want to see Kylington on the move thanks to his impressive 2021-22 season, it may not be the worst option. As great as he was in 2021-22, it is important to remember just how inconsistent he had been in years past. Though he could remain the same player in years to come, it is also very possible that he regresses back to what he was, in which case he would have little to no trade value. Moving him on what is a crowded blue line while he has solid value is something that Treliving is likely considering at this point in time.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.