The Calgary Flames' defence has improved a lot over this past season, both in the NHL and in the prospect ranks. Adding Dougie Hamilton to a defence core desperate for another top four player was a steal, but drafting both Rasmus Andersson and Oliver Kylington in the second round cemented what was an outstanding defensive draft weekend for the team.
Well, you can never have too many options, and now, the Flames have added another one. Ryan Wilson - remember him? - has been invited to the Flames' camp on a professional tryout.
This isn't Wilson's first foray with the Flames. Despite good junior numbers, he remained undrafted, and the Flames signed him on July 1, 2008. He spent his first professional season with the AHL's Quad City Flames, where he posted decent numbers: 20 points over 60 games, second in the team's defensive scoring.
That is, until he was traded later that season. The Flames gave up Wilson in part of a package for Jordan Leopold on the trade deadline, and that was that.
Wilson has spent the past five seasons with the Avalanche, but only played three games last season. His season was cut short thanks to season-ending shoulder surgery in late November 2014, but the injury was sustained at the start of the season, in October. His most recent NHL game took place on Oct. 21, 2014.
Now, this is a homecoming of sorts for the 6'1, 207 lb. defender.
He'll be in tough to make the Flames, but if he does, it would be as a bottom pairing guy: and there's reason to like him for the job. As of right now, we can assume Hamilton, Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, Kris Russell, and Dennis Wideman are the only locks on the roster, leaving Deryk Engelland, a recovering Ladislav Smid, European rookie Jakub Nakladal, and prospect Tyler Wotherspoon as the only real potentials for the sixth and seventh defencemen positions - but Wilson has the potential to beat them all out.
He's played big minutes for Colorado in the past - up to averaging 19-20 minutes a game for the Avalanche between 2010-12 - and has the size to be a bottom pairing defenceman.
PTOs can go one of two ways: either you win a contract with the team (as Raphael Diaz did the previous season), or you're simply released (as was with the case with Sheldon Brookbank, and later, Douglas Murray). He'd have to have an exceptional camp to win a one-way NHL contract, but if he's open to the idea, it's possible he could go to the Stockton Heat and play a mentor role for the Flames' budding defensive prospects, similar to Corey Potter the previous season.
More bodies and more competition are never a bad thing, though, and this one's been added for free: exactly the same way Wilson first came to the Flames.