Edmonton is going to be up against the cap ceiling this offseason as they try to sign all of their free agents. They’ve got a big ticket in Evander Kane, who will be an unrestricted free agent in July. They’ve got Jesse Puljujärvi, who will be in line for a significant raise since coming back to the Oilers in 2020. Ryan McLeod will need a new deal, the Oilers could probably use a goaltender in the mix as well.
Brett Kulak will need a new deal as well. The Oilers should extend him, as the defence is better with him in the lineup. Due to Edmonton’s delicate financial situation (AKA: they’re going to be up against the cap ceiling again), Kulak is likely to be a good option that won’t break the Oilers cap situation wide open.
A native of Stony Plain, Kulak was selected in the fourth round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the Calgary Flames. Kulak signed a three year deal at 1.85MM AAV with the Canadiens in 2019. He’d be on the move west at this year’s deadline.
Kulak was acquired by the Oilers at the trade deadline for William Lagesson, a conditional second round pick and a conditional seventh round pick. A left defenceman, Kulak has averaged 16 and a half minutes for the Oilers since he was acquired from the Canadiens. He’s got a goal and five assists with Edmonton, and the player he’s paired with most often with is Tyson Barrie at evens.
Last night it was Cody Ceci, and the results were pretty good against a solid Penguins club.
Kulak was on the ice the most out of any left defenceman (21:07), he had an assist on Kassian’s goal, and three shots. He had an xGF of just over 82 against Pittsburgh’s top guns. The action is more often in the other end of the ice when he’s on it. He’s real, and he’s good. He PK’d for two and a half minutes last night. Kulak is holding up a Tyson Barrie pair, and he was better than good with Cody Ceci last night.
Kulak’s deal is ending this season. He’s finishing up a three year deal that averages 1.85MM a season. If Kulak’s number is anywhere near that for a year or two, they’ve got to get serious about making it happen. Duncan Keith is a better choice for the bottom pair, while Kulak’s cap hit is likely to be less than half of Keith’s monster 5.5MM hit this year and next.
Holland didn’t qualify deadline acquisition Andreas Athanasiou in 2020, letting him become a free agent. He didn’t re-sign Dmitri Kulikov last year, who also became a free agent. He’d be ill-advised to make the same mistake three years in a row. Brett Kulak is like found money for Ken Holland. He’s an upgrade on the left side that should come in at a manageable price. At age 28, he’s a good bet to take on another couple of minutes per game.
An extension for Brett Kulak seems like a no-brainer. Let’s see what the Oilers do.