LHD Brett Kulak
Next is the farm hand who’s had decent results in the games he has gotten with the big club. Over the past 2 seasons Brett Kulak has played 29 games (21 during the 2016/17 season) and amassed 3 points. Those aren’t eyepopping numbers but one must keep in mind this was in a bottom pairing role playing most of the time with Dennis Wideman and Deryk Engelland.
Like we did with Wiercioch, it would be wise to look at more than just the counting stats for young Kulak as they help to paint a more complete picture. Before diving into those numbers though a disclaimer is in order. With Kulak only having had played 21 games this season (and he only averaged 13:38 min. at 5on5 in those games) you have to take the sample size into account. That said, he has performed very well in the games he has played.
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In the 2016/17 Kulak ranked: 3rd in Rel.CF% (1.32), 4th in Rel.FF% (-2.29), and 5th in Rel.SCF% (-2.59). In each of these he was well behind the top pair of Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton, TJ Brodie and Michael Stone also edging him out in scoring chances. That said, this isn’t bad at all for a player who spent most of his time in a 3rd pair role with the lower tier defensive talent he Flames had.
Kulak is the most likely person to take this role next season. He’s young and ready to prove himself. In his time with the big club, he has proved himself to at least be reliable in limited minutes. The biggest questions surrounding young Brett is whether he can keep up the level of play we’ve seen him exhibit in short bursts, managing to carry a lesser partner vs. lower lights on the other teams. If this is the path Calgary Flames go, it’ll be interesting to see just how much, if at all, Kulak is able to raise his game.
That said, there is one more option that Flames brass/Glen Gulutzan could see as a fit…