The Flames aren't finished with roster moves today. With Ladislav Smid returning from injury and potentially receiving a lineup spot for Friday evening against Detroit (Hartley skated him with the other defenders today, but declined to confirm his playing status), the club called up Jakub Nakladal from the Stockton Heat and sent Brett Kulak back down.
Nakladal was a surprise offseason signing from TPS in the Finnish Liiga. The Czech defender was one of the late cuts from training camp, and has been a pleasant surprise thus far in the AHL with three assists in two games. He's most likely here to act as a seventh defenceman, but could potentially usurp a position from a bottom pairing defender (Smid, Deryk Engelland, or Kris Russell, considering his form) like Raphael Diaz did last year.
For Kulak, his NHL stay is over for the time being. Another surprise from training camp, Kulak beat out Nakladal for the final position, but now with Smid back, it only makes sense to send him down. If Hartley is insistent on playing Smid, then it makes no sense to sit Kulak and hinder his development. He's still 21, whereas Nakladal is 27. I'm not quite convinced that Nakladal is better than Kulak, but he's a low risk option that won't suffer from occupying a press box seat. Kulak is just on the verge of being an NHL regular, and could use more than 13-15 minutes per night.
While it may be slightly disappointing, this move benefits both the Flames and Kulak moving forward. It's not necessarily a solution to the defensive problems this team currently faces, but it keeps a young player's development going, which is still essential for the club.