The Calgary Flames organization, players, and fans all missed Oliver Kylington significantly last season. Coming off one of the best seasons of his career as well as fresh off of signing a new contract for two seasons, Kylington would end up missing the entire 2022–23 season due to personal reasons.
The absolute only thing that matters in this situation is that Kylington is able to get back to 100% with whatever has happened over the last few months and return to the same person. Hockey will always come second to something of this severity.
With a recent Instagram post, it looks like Kylington is gearing up already to get back to play—this truly gives many a ray of hope after the last season Calgary played.
Players returning to NHL action in unusual manners
That being said, what exactly does the future hold for Kylington? Yesterday, it was announced that Alexandre Texier would return to the Columbus Blue Jackets for the 2023–24 season after spending the 2022–23 season with the ZSC Lions in Switzerland’s National League. In addition to this, based on the advice and recommendation of the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program, he took this time to be closer to home.
The most interesting part of this is that his contract—originally signed in the summer of 2021 as a two-year contract—would be extended into the 2023–24 NHL season.
Could the same apply to Kylington?
First off, this is a very, very unique and nuanced situation that applied to Texier. Being in the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program, Texier did not play the entire season with the Columbus Blue Jackets but was still under contract with the team. Being placed in that program allows his contract to not count towards the cap, as noted by CapFriendly. Typically players are still paid by their respective teams, but whether insurance covers it or not differs by if a player is injured.
In Texier’s case, his contract that was set to expire this summer, but now has been agreed to slide to next year. This would delay his free agency a year and allow him to return to play with the Blue Jackets next year. This slide is similar to how an entry-level contract (ELC) slide would work, allowing a player to remain under contract but not hit restricted free agent status.
Here is everything we know about how this is possible. In this situation, Texier and his agent, the Blue Jackets, and the NHL would have to agree to the situation to allow for this to happen. As seen, Texier and everyone involved decided that this was the best path forward to returning to play next year and gave him one more year under contract.
These circumstances are just not common enough occurrences for there to be any set precedents to follow.
Is this same tactic possible for Kylington? Potentially.
There are a few key differences here, the main one being that Kylington sat all year on IR and was never formally announced to be placed in the NHLPA Player Assistance Program. Although rumoured to be, former General Manager Brad Treliving was adamant that it was not related to the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program. That could have an impact here on a contractual basis.
It’s most likely the case that Kylington was still paid his $2.5M contract for this season, therefore it’s unclear if the Flames would be able to engage in this type of slide.
Additionally, from Kylington’s perspective if he is able to return to play and say reach that of a potential Norris-calibre defenceman, would he want to be under contract for another season or hit free agency a year sooner?
The team would surely love to have one more year of a team-friendly deal, but all parties would need to be in agreement on this.
Much left to be determined
Once again, the main thing here is that Kylington is able to return to play and be 100% healthy both mentally and physically. If everyone involved then feels like the best move forward is to start the conversation about sliding the contract, then Texier has set the framework for what could be pursued.
Yet another chapter in the NHL salary cap gymnastics.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire