Oliver Kylington could have looked at the Calgary Flames’ acquisition of MacKenzie Weegar as a sign his days were numbered.
Instead, the talented young defenceman agreed to some.
The 25-year-old translated a career campaign into a $5-million deal with the Flames, signing for two years at $2.5M to avoid his arbitration hearing scheduled for Aug. 10.
Kylington cleared waivers and played on the taxi squad in 2020-21. But the Swede was given a chance to play in the top four alongside Chris Tanev after Nikita Zadorov was injured early last season. He never looked back, scoring nine goals and 22 assists for 31 points in 73 games.
A shifty, puck-moving defenceman, Kylington isn’t guaranteed to the same pairing or ice time. Weegar coming over in the Matthew Tkachuk trade gives the Flames options. But Kylington’s signing gives the Calgary Flames arguably the deepest group on the back end in the NHL. Noah Hanifin and Rasmus Andersson spent last season together and combined for 98 points.
Zadorov and Erik Gudbranson rounded out the pairings and provided solid minutes.
Flames blueline brigade upgraded
Weegar was one of the league’s top defencemen last year but few would suggest he’s anything but an upgrade on Gudbranson. Gudbranson signed with Columbus and was a key in connecting Johnny Gaudreau to the Blue Jackets later on the opening day of free agency.
Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter helped Kylington recover quickly from mistakes. His defensive awareness and decision-making improved significantly. He’ll look to make more strides this season.
Depending on Tanev’s health after surgery to repair a torn labrum, Weegar and Kylington could start the season together. Weegar is capable of playing either side.
With more than $9.5 million remaining in cap space, the Flames will look to lock up Andrew Mangiapane. The 35-goal scorer is the last remaining RFA and has an arbitration hearing set for Friday. Centre Adam Ruzicka also needs a new deal, but is not eligible for arbitration.