The Edmonton Oilers have acquired defenceman Dmitry Kulikov from the New Jersey Devils.
The Oilers give up fourth round draft pick in 2022, which will become a third rounder if the Oilers win a playoff round this spring.
He’ll have to quarantine once he arrives in Edmonton and is expected to make his Oilers debut on April 26 against Winnipeg.
“Very excited,” said Kulikov of now being a teammate of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. “They’re two of the best in the league. It was very hard to play against them, but also it’s very fun to watch them play other teams.”
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Kulikov, 30, has two assists in 38 games for the Devils this season, averaging 19:33 of ice time. He’s on a one-year contract worth $1.15 million.
“He can skate. He can make a good first pass. He’s defensive-minded. He’s got an edge to his game. He can kill penalties,” said Oilers general manager Ken Holland.
“The last three years in Winnipeg, I hadn’t played power play, but I wouldn’t say I’ve evolved into a shutdown defenceman,” said Kulikov, who had a career-high 28 points in the 2011-12 season.
“I’m still the same player I was when I broke into the league. Yes, the roles have changed, but I haven’t changed my game. It’s hard to get points from the blue line when you’re not on the power play.”
Kulikov was drafted 14th overall by Florida in 2009. He’s played 715 NHL games.
The Oilers are in need of a scoring winger, but Holland said they were never in on Taylor Hall or someone similar.
“We weren’t really close. I did talk to some teams about some forwards,” said Holland. “Money was tight. Assets were tight. We went with what I felt was the priority, to get a little deeper on the back end.”
With little room under salary cap and an unwillingness to trade picks or prospects, Holland was unlikely to make a splash. However, he hopes to be more aggressive in the future.
“Yes, that’s the hope,” said Holland. “You can look back on the decisions I’ve made in the past, and I think you pick and choose. I don’t know you can be all in every year.”
Holland added that defenceman Slater Koekkoek could return in early May. He suffered a broken collarbone on Feb. 20.