#8 - Oliver Kylington
2019-20 Team: Calgary Flames (NHL)
Drafted in 2015, 2nd Round, Pick 60
2019 Ranking: #11
Who is Oliver Kylington and where does he really fit on the Flames? Those have been two questions that have been on my mind for a couple of seasons now as Kylington has progressed to a larger role at the NHL level with the team. He skated in 48 games this past season with the Flames, putting up seven points. He only played three games in the AHL this year on a short assignment, but had three goals in those three games.
Unfortunately with a fairly strong defensive core in Calgary the past few seasons, Kylington has been stuck in that mushy middle where he’s likely too good for the AHL (17 points in his last 21 AHL games as a defenseman) but hasn’t really carved out a role in Calgary. With the left side of the defensive core consisting of Mark Giordano, Noah Hanifin, and Juuso Valimaki, Kylington looks to be squeezed out there.
Rasmus Andersson and Chris Tanev are also guaranteed onto the roster on the right side, leaving just the 3 RD and 7th defenseman role open heading into the season. Along with having to switch to his unnatural side, Kylington will also have to fend off the likes of Nikita Nesterov, Alex Petrovic, Alexander Yelesin, new prospect Connor Mackey, and potentially any other last minute additions for one of those spots.
There is also reason to believe that the Flames may not have Kylington in their long term plans at this point. In each of the last two seasons, the Flames have chosen to go out at the trade deadline and acquire the likes of Oscar Fantenberg, Derek Forbort, and Erik Gustafsson who have supplanted Kylington from the lineup as a result. As a result, he’s played in just three games past the trade deadline in the last two seasons, and no playoff games.
Again, it gets back to how Kylington is in that mushy middle where he won’t get a top four role which offensive defencemen such as himself usually get, but having him in the press box does no good either. The Flames have subscribed to the idea of a gritty third pairing in each of the last two years which has moved Kylington to the press box.
With that in mind, we have to consider the possibility that the Flames may be looking to move Kylington. His name was reportedly in rumors two years ago when the Flames were considering going after Mark Stone. He is also still a restricted free agent, although I can’t image what the holdup currently is as he’s not likely to make more than 800k this year. He would still be an intriguing trade chip to a rebuilding club but as time passes his value decreases.
One final consideration should be that the Seattle Expansion Draft is coming up after this season. Chances are the Flames will be exposing him and risking him on a division rival could come back to hurt the Flames if he prospers with a bigger role on the expansion team. At the same time, keeping Kylington to expose him could be beneficial in that it may be a way of protecting some of the good forwards the Flames would have to expose by leaving an enticing defensive option.
Kylington has shown flashes of his potential at the NHL level, but it really doesn’t seem like the Flames have been ready to fully buy into him. Barring trade I would have Kylington as a frontrunner for one of the open defensive positions, but wouldn’t be surprised to see him cycling in and out fairly frequently this season.