Calgary Flames president of hockey ops and interim GM Don Maloney talked about injecting youth into the lineup next season.
That apparently includes a massive shot of it from the return of defenceman Oliver Kylington.
The fleet-of-foot 25-year-old missed the entire 2022-23 season for personal reasons but was spotted on social platforms skating hard in his Calgary Flames gear, getting Flames fans’ hopes up for an announcement.
Somewhat buried in the news that head coach Darryl Sutter was fired was the nugget that Kylington appears poised for a comeback.
“We had some good news last week when talking with Oliver Kylington,” Maloney said during his press conference on Monday. “It certainly seems he is in a very good place. (He) told me he’s excited about coming back next season, which is very positive for the organization.”
The Calgary Flames blueline was touted as one of the best in the league last summer after the addition of MacKenzie Weegar bolstered an already impressive roster that included Rasmus Andersson, Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev, Nikita Zadorov and Kylington. But Kylington’s absence and Tanev’s injuries combined with Weegar’s adjustment to his new coach and environment certainly hurt the unit.
Kylington formed a dynamic pair with Tanev the previous season — his breakout in the NHL with nine goals and 31 points in 73 games.
He signed a fresh two-year deal worth $5 million (a $2.5 AAV) to avoid arbitration, but never joined the team at training camp because of something that came up in his personal life. Then GM Brad Treliving shared that it had nothing to do with addiction but shared no details.
Although the team never announced Kylington was in the NHLPA Player Assistance Program, which tackles absolutely any issues a player may experience, from mental health, to mourning, to addiction services, he may have been receiving that care.
If he was, his contract could carry over as if this season didn’t exist. That is the case for Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Alexandre Texier, who entered the program last year and played this season in Europe.
More details on his contract status are expected this summer, which could be a busy one for the new Calgary Flames GM with plenty of players on the final year of their deal, including Tanev, Zadorov, Hanifin, Tyler Toffoli, Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund in addition to Kylington if his last season is deemed a loss.