The Edmonton Oilers continue their aggressive approach in the arms race taking place just hours before the NHL trade deadline. They acquired Brett Kulak from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a second-round draft pick in 2022 or 2023, a seventh-round draft pick in 2024, and defenseman William Lagesson.
Kulak is a 28-year-old left-handed defenseman who has played in parts of eight NHL seasons. He has worked himself into a full-time role with the Canadiens in 2021-22. He is originally from Stony Plain, located near Edmonton, Alberta.
Oilers Add Kulak
The Oilers have climbed their way back into playoff position in the Pacific Division, but they still face a desperate situation within their organization. Elliotte Friedman bluntly pointed out on the 32 Thoughts podcast that they don’t consider it an option to miss the postseason because of the elite level of star players Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in their prime years. Their acquisition of Evander Kane, a player with a questionable history off the ice, proved as much in January. The acquisition of Kulak continues their aggressive mentality.
Kulak played 101 games in parts of four seasons with the Calgary Flames, who drafted him in the fourth round in 2012. He has played the past four seasons with the Canadiens, appearing in 215 regular-season games and 23 playoff games. The Oilers will not depend on him to provide significant offensive contributions. He will likely play on the left side of the third defensive pair with veteran right-hander Kris Russell.
During Montreal’s run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2021, Kulak was part of a shuffling third pair on the blue line. He averaged 12:52 of ice time in 13 games. He is playing in the final season of his contract in 2021-22. The 6-foot-2 defenseman carries an annual cap hit of $1.85 million.
Canadiens Looking Towards the Future
The Canadiens have begun their first true rebuild in franchise history since the recent arrival of president of hockey operation Jeff Gorton and general manager Kent Hughes. They currently sit in the 32nd and final spot in the NHL standings, and the subtraction of NHL veterans ahead of the deadline won’t help them during the final six weeks of the 2021-22 season.
They sent Ben Chiarot to the Florida Panthers on Wednesday in exchange for a first-round pick in 2023, a fourth-round pick in 2022, and forward Tyler Smilanic. They have also dealt Tyler Toffoli, Michael McNiven, and Brandon Baddock in under six weeks’ time with a focus on acquiring assets that will help them move towards a plan for long-term contention. The second-rounders acquired from Edmonton gets added to the arsenal.
Lagesson is a 26-year-old defenseman with 57 games of NHL experience in Edmonton. He has recorded four assists in 30 games for the Oilers in 2021-22. He is an impending restricted free agent with a $725K cap hit in 2021-22.
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Colin Newby is a freelance writer from Delaware County, PA covering the Philadelphia Flyers for The Hockey Writers. He is an encyclopedia of useless sports knowledge with an uncanny ability to rattle off Flyers goaltending stats from 2004 and every Stanley Cup winner during his lifetime. The depths of his knowledge stem from spending his entire life following the Flyers and the NHL, from fan favorites like the “Legion of Doom” and Claude Giroux to forgotten journeymen like Andy Delmore and Branko Radivojevič. He joined the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA) in 2022.
Colin also covers the Philadelphia Eagles and works for 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia.