Chad Billins is a young defenseman who has so far proven he can succeed at every level of hockey he has played. The Calgary Flames recently signed the defenseman to a one-year, two-way contract for the 2013-14 season, and will hope to see that success continue.
Billins played four seasons of collegiate hockey at Ferris State University, reaching the national championship game his senior year. He then inked an AHL contract with the Grand Rapids Griffins for the 2012-13 season. The young blueliner wasted little time making an impact there, and a solid first half helped him get sent to the AHL All-Star Game. Things only got better from there on out, as Billins and the Griffins went on an incredible playoff run that was finished off with a Calder Cup championship in June. Billins was first among the team’s defensemen with 10 goals and 37 points, and added two goals and 14 points in 24 postseason games. He was praised for his defensive awareness and puck-moving ability, as well as his ability to help out on the offensive end. His size (5-10, 175) will continue to be a question moving forward, but so far he has proved his doubters wrong.
The lockout kept Billins out of NHL training camps last year, but the Flames made sure he had a home for next season. The Flames are in rebuilding mode, and defense will be one area they look to improve. If Billins is going to crack an NHL roster, this could prove to be one of his best chances. At worst, he’ll spend most of the season in the AHL with the Abbotsford Heat, where he’ll be competing with Mark Cundari and Chris Breen for a call-up if an injury happens in Calgary.