The Flames made two important adds to their blueline at the deadline in Erik Gustafsson and Derek Forbort, along with finding a new home for Brandon Davidson in San Jose. The addition of these two new pieces, along with the return of Mark Giordano to the lineup has pushed Oliver Kylington and Michael Stone to the bench. And with Travis Hamonic now skating again with the team, it is only a matter of time before the Flames have three healthy defencemen on the sidelines without places to play.
Since the trade deadline, neither Stone nor Kylington has started a game for the Flames. With all due respect to Stone, Kylington lost out at the deadline far more.
After being bought out in the summer, Stone was brought in on a league minimum deal to play as a “serviceable” seventh defenceman. He has featured in 33 games this season, 11 of which were in the month of February when Hamonic and Giordano were not healthy. He is not, and has not been, an NHL regular this season. Both Gustafsson and Forbort are upgrades over Stone and the Flames are better off with their new additions.
Before the deadline, Kylington has been a solid third pairing defenceman for the team. Having featured in 48 games this season, he has seven points, six of which were at even strength. His underlying numbers at 5v5 this season have been decent:
|5v5 (Rank on D with 100+ minutes played)||CF%||SCF%||HDCF%||xGF%|
|Oliver Kylington||48.1% (6th)||49.3% (5th)||47.1% (6th)||48.9% (5th)|
His numbers don’t necessarily jump off the page, but for a young player trying to adjust to full time NHL life they are decent. He has not been perfect on both ends of the ice, with a number of defensive lapses and general breakdowns, but he has looked much better since the calendar flipped to 2020.
Although he’s improved in the new year, he has not been better than any of the other five Flames defenseman this season. From Giordano to T.J. Brodie, to fellow second round pick Rasmus Andersson, Kylington has not been able to pass any of them on the depth chart and won’t be anytime soon. With Gustafsson, who was a reliable second pairing player in Chicago, and Forbort, who played top line minutes with Drew Doughty in Los Angeles, there is little chance that he will be favoured over either of them this season (barring any unforeseen circumstances).
Kylington is eligible to play in Stockton this season, but he has proven that he is too good for that league. In three games this season in the AHL, he has three goals and a PPG rate. To put that in perspective, Zac Leslie, Stockton’s leading defenceman, has five goals in 47 games. While there is no doubt that Kylington playing in Stockton would help improve the farm team as they try to capture the Calder Cup, it may not be beneficial for his development.
So what do the Flames do with Kylington? Odds are that barring another injury or one of their other defenceman becoming a major liability on the ice, he probably ends up back in Stockton for the remainder of the year. Just like Dillon Dube and Andrew Mangiapane the season before, Kylington is somewhere between being too good for the AHL but not quite good enough to hold down a spot on this very deep Calgary blueline. While the Flames do have a number of defencemen needing new contracts, including pending RFA Kylington himself, time will tell exactly how Kylington factors into GM Brad Treliving’s plans for next season and beyond.
Photo credits Sergei Belski/USA Today