CALGARY, AB -- Calgary Flames defenceman Clay Wilson has been around long enough to know one man's misfortune is another man's gain.
The 28 year-old rearguard has made stops in 12 cities since the 2005-06 season, playing largely in the AHL but also earning stints with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Atlanta Thrashers and Florida Panthers over that span.
He chose to sign with the Flames organization in the off-season, looking to continue establish himself as a reliable, NHL-ready defender and now, thanks to the ever-growing sick bay, he's getting his shot to showcase his talents.
"When I signed this summer, I hoped to get a chance. That's what's happening now. I've just got to run with it and show them that I can play here."
Wilson started the year with the Abbotsford Heat and immediately was placed in a top-four role. An offensive force, Wilson accrued six goals and 20 points in 32 games with the baby Flames and threw 71 shots on net throughout that span.
When the Flames injury woes started to pile up, the team opted to call up Joe Piskula from the Heat. The veteran spent an extended period of time with the team but only played in five games, registering a minus-five rating and zero points. When Piskula was returned to Abbotsford, Wilson was recalled to provide a seventh body on the blueline.
The Sturgeon Lake, MN native had a chance to learn the Flames system after being recalled, sitting as a healthy scratch for his first four games. But with Scott Hannan on the injured reserve with an upper body injury, it looks like he'll have some time to show the organization what he can bring to the table.
While Wilson is naturally an offensive blueliner, he plans to stick with a very plain-Jane defensive game during his time with the Flames.
"I want to keep things really simple, you know," he stated. "If I see an opening, I'll go. But for the most part, I'll probably try to stay back and be sound defensively.
"Take my chances when I get them but be very picky in those situations."
With 32 NHL contests under his belt, Wilson isn't a stranger to the pressure involved with playing in the League but he admitted there were some nerves coming into play before he suited up for his first game in Flames silks.
"Not compared to my first game - I was bouncing off the wall," he chuckled. "But it's always exciting. It's another opportunity. As you get older, the opportunities seem to come fewer and far between so you've got to take the opportunity and run with it."