Despite a strong showing during the Phoenix Coyotes training camp, he was outplayed by top prospect Kyle Turris in the preseason, and could not earn himself a contract. He only managed 2 points in 5 games and in his final preseason game he had no points and was a -2. Turris, on the other hand, had 3 points in 4 games, with a goal and a +2 in his final game. It came down to Harrison's favorite word in regards to Wellwood: "results."
His one preseason goal was typically Wellwoodian, as he stick-handled the puck directly into the goal on the powerplay (goal at 0:19, replay at 1:26), which the boxscore generously labeled a wrist shot. Also available in that clip is a brief interview with Kyle at 0:55, as well as some praise from no less a source than Shane Doan at 1:14. Unfortunately, after this lofty day, Wellwood came crashing back to earth. With the signing of Eric Belanger, the spots on Phoenix's roster were limited, and they opted to go with the young prospect rather than the cagey vet.
It's hard to disagree with GM Don Maloney's decision, but it's also hard to see Kyle Wellwood's last chance to play in the NHL this season slip away. On the plus side, in the KHL he'll get a chance to skate alongside another former-Canuck oddball, Jan Bulis! The Kurtenblog accurately predicted that this would please us, as Atlant immediately becomes our favorite KHL team.
Wellwood will be the only Canadian on the roster, but not the only North American, as American Jeff Hamilton, who played 157 games in the NHL, has also reportedly signed with Atlant. Wellwood will easily slot into their top-six with Nikolai Zherdev leaving the team in the off-season for a contract with the Philadelphia Flyers. In fact, Kyle could fit into the top line between top KHL scorer Sergei Mozyakin and Jan Bulis. Kyle's shiftiness and stickhandling skills will serve him well on the larger ice surface in the KHL and he should be able to rack up some sizable point totals and hopefully find his way back to the NHL next season.
We'll keep a close eye on Wellwood and Atlant throughout the season through the magic of Google Translate, unless we're able to find a legitimate translator to help us navigate Wellwood's new world.