The Oilers completed two small trades today.
First: Edmonton sends William Lagesson and a 2022 second round pick to the Montréal Canadiens for defenceman Brett Kulak. The 2022 second round pick turns into a 2023 second round pick if the Oilers reach the Stanley Cup Finals and Duncan Keith plays top four minutes in the first three rounds of the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Montréal Canadiens retain 50% of Kulak’s cap hit (925K)
This is a deal that has a lot riding on what happens after this season ends. Overall, I like the player, and I do think that shipping a second round pick along with William Lagesson is a little steep. I’ll think that it’s a lot less steep if Kulak re-signs with the Oilers this offseason, as he’ll be a UFA after this one’s over.
Kulak is a left shot defenceman who hails from Stony Plain AB. A 6’2” defenceman, Kulak averages fifth among Canadiens D in ice time at a whisker under 18 minutes per game. Kulak’s most common partner in Montréal was Jeff Petry, who’s a pretty good defencemen some of you might remember. While playing with Petry, Kulak’s fancies will likely find himself on the third pair in his first game he plays in Edmonton, but I wouldn’t rule out seeing Kulak on the middle pair at some point between now and the end of the season.
Kulak isn’t going to put up a lot of points or score goals, but he’ll be a worthwhile player in his own zone. He’s an upgrade on the 3LD position, and he might be even better than that.
Kulak is on the last of a three year deal valued at 1.85MM a season. The 28-year old is an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of this season. If he re-signs, that sticker shock of a second round pick and a player will wear off quickly. If Kulak moves on after just after six weeks with the Oilers, the cost of a second rounder and a player will look very rich indeed.
Another small trade: The OIlers acquire Derick Brassard from the Flyers for a fourth round pick in 2023.
The Flyers retain 50% of Brassard’s cap hit (412K)
In a nutshell, it’s an okay trade for a player that’s going to be fine playing where he is in the lineup. That’s more than likely the fourth line.
Deadline deals to acquire fourth line players take me back to the days of Steve Tambellini and Jerred Smithson. Nail Yakupov and going for it. Derick Brassard might not bring that immediate fanfare, but he’ll probably be just fine at 4C.
The 34-year old Brassard joins the Oilers, his tenth career NHL club after a short time in Philadelphia. Brassard signed a one year deal with the Flyers this last offseason, he can play centre or wing. Brassard is doing a bit of scoring this year (he’s got 16 points in 31 games), but he’s got an S% that’s nearing Evander Kane right now. You will recall what betting on a high shooting percentage will get you, and it’s probably not fair to Brassard to expect a whole lot of points, especially on Edmonton’s fourth line.
Even if Brassard doesn’t set the scoreboard on fire, he’s an OK fourth liner as a rental. I’m just not sure exactly how much the Oilers needed this type of player, but he’s good for the job.
Kulak is a good player, and Brassard is fine too. The Oilers didn’t spend too, too much to get what they wanted, it’s just that I think the Oilers need to be aiming their goals a little bigger right now. Hindsight is 20/20, so if Kulak ends up playing top four minutes over Duncan Keith in a dozen games, everyone’s going to squeal about how this was a genius move for Ken Holland. And that might happen, but let’s look at the players in the lens of today. Kulak is expected to be a player at 3LD soon, and Brassard is likely a fourth line centre.
Does it move the needle for Edmonton? Not as much as a goaltender would, and we saw a few of those folks move in the last 48 hours. Still, the Oilers put out that they weren’t going to make any big moves today, they didn’t. It’s frustrating, but they’ve still got a puncher’s chance in the first round, if they make it that far.