Clay Wilson, the Abbotsford Heat’s team MVP last season, is headed to the Kontinental Hockey League.
The 29-year-old defenceman signed a one-year deal last week with Donbass Donetsk, a KHL squad based in the Ukraine.
Wilson had one year remaining on a two-year contract with the Calgary Flames, the Heat’s NHL parent club. The deal transitioned from a two-way NHL/AHL contract in 2011-12 to a one-way NHL deal in 2012-13.
But with seven defencemen on the Flames’ roster with one-way contracts, not including promising youngster T.J. Brodie, Wilson’s chances of earning those dollars in the NHL appeared slim. Named to the AHL all-star game the last two years, Wilson had little left to prove at the lower level, and will try to burnish his resumé for future NHL employment in the KHL.
Flames general manager Jay Feaster confirmed to the Calgary Sun that Wilson’s NHL contract has been voided.
“He is no longer on our reserve list,” Feaster said. “We wish Clay and his family well as he pursues his career.”
The Sturgeon Lake, Minn. native was a rock on the blueline for the Heat last season, racking up 43 points (16 goals, 27 assists) in 66 games while averaging nearly 30 minutes of ice time per game in the second half of the season. He also suited up for five games with the Flames, failing to register a point.
Over his seven pro seasons, Wilson has played 36 NHL games for the Columbus Blue Jackets, Atlanta Thrashers, Florida Panthers and Flames, totaling four goals and four assists.