On April 17, the Calgary Flames and Brad Treliving official parted ways leaving the Flames’ general manager role vacant for the first time since 2014. The Flames organization has lots to think about before filling that vacant spot. Do they want to promote internally or outside organization? Would it be best to hire someone who already has experience of being a general manager at the NHL level or to give someone completely new a shot? Is it time to get with the times and hire someone who has a thought process that fits the direction hockey is headed?
The most important question is the last question and the answer should be a resounding yes. The Flames for a very long time have had an old timey hockey mindset and desperately need to head towards a more progressive mindset. The perfect candidate for a general manager that’s progressive, innovative, and analytical would be assistant general manager with the Carolina Hurricanes: Eric Tulsky.
Who is Eric Tulsky?
As already mentioned, Eric Tulsky is currently one of the assistant general managers for the Hurricanes. Tulsky has been with the Hurricanes for the past nine years and has made his way up the ranks. For his first three seasons with the team, Tulsky started as an analyst. Then, he was promoted to director of analytics—a role he stayed as for the next three seasons. All three of those seasons he had another role alongside being director of analytics. The first year, he was also the manager of analytics and the remaining two he was the vice president of hockey management. Assistant general manager is the most recent promotion he has received and has been in that position for the past three seasons.
What makes Eric Tulsky a strong candidate?
There’s a lot to like about Tulsky if the Flames are looking for someone with a new take on hockey management and integrating data. The Flames have long been among the NHL teams adopting analytics, as they’ve had Chris Snow with the team for over a decade. Snow started as director of hockey analysis and is now—like Tulsky—an assistant general manager.
The franchise has not just the technical know-how to include more data into their hockey management, they seem to have organizational buy-in for merging the two disciplines of scouting and analytics to make the team better. This is a perfect starting point for someone like Tulsky to come in and immediately fit with the culture.
History with analytics
Eric Tulsky is probably the best analytics guy in all of the NHL. To start, he has B.A. and PH. D. in chemistry and while he doesn’t straight up use chemistry to deal with analytics, he does use the knowledge he has learned and applied it to his work with hockey numbers. Tulsky started out as a blogger in the early 2010s and wrote about his models and his findings. Spending years and years working with analytics and building personal models is something that he has done and continues to do. Tulsky has a strong understanding of what analytic models can and can’t tell you about players around the league and what statistics matter most.
Being strong with analytics is an advantage and Tulsky imports it into his player management work. Tulsky oversees the team that’s responsible for pro scouting and the team responsible for salary cap management. Tulsky has created many data-driven models that help with management. He works with models that are structured to separate how well a player had performed for many different stretches, a singular game, a week, multiple years, etc.
Being able to look at aging curves to see when a specific type of player peaks and declines is super helpful and Tulsky has made designs for just that. Using data from these previous models mentioned, Tulsky has created a separate model that is able to create projections for every player. All of these models help Tulsky do what he’s best at: finding diamonds in the rough.
Whether these diamonds are players in need of a change of scenery, players with great numbers not being utilized correctly, struggling players that seemed to decline out of nowhere, or buy-low candidates; finding these diamonds allow the Hurricanes to make moves that cost little cap space or little assets to acquire—keeping them competitive and successful.
Think about the low-cost moves the Hurricanes have made in recent years such as the Jesper Fast and Jordan Martinook signings and Vincent Trocheck trade, they are all likely finds by Tulsky’s work. The Hurricanes seem to know how to utilize their cap situation and a lot of the praise probably deserves to go to Tulsky. While targeting NHL players is the most important, Tulsky has created a system of video and data that allows for him and his team to watch and keep track of players in the AHL, college, and Europe and hopefully find some potential great players in those leagues.
Eric Tulsky is one of the best candidates for the Flames’ open general manager spot. He fits Don Maloney’s description of a progressive mind who is on the cusp of being a general manager. To add on to that, he is an extremely smart man that knows how to implement his work to make his team competitive and has the writing of guiding a dynasty. Analytics are a big part of hockey’s future, every team will get into them eventually, and having Tulsky at the helm would be a huge head start in that department.
There is one complication that comes with Tulsky as a candidate and that is that the Flames might not even be allowed to interview him. The Hurricanes are one of the best teams in the league and Tulsky is a huge part of that, so it’s probably in their best interest to keep him and they can just deny him from receiving interviews. Right now, Tulsky becoming general manager of the Calgary Flames seems like a dream, but if they ever get the option hire him, they should do it without hesitation.
Calgary Flames GM Candidate Profiles
Check out our previous general manager candidate profiles here to get the full run-down on who Calgary should have considered and why they would be good or bad fits with the team: