Hours before the NHL Trade Deadline, the Montreal Canadiens have moved defenceman Brett Kulak to the Edmonton Oilers in return for a conditional 2022 2nd round pick, a 2024 7th round pick and 26-year-old defenceman William Lagesson per Bob McKenzie of TSN.
The Montreal Canadiens blueliner was a coveted piece on the NHL trade front. Kulak, who’s in the last year of his three-year deal valued at $1.85M annually, soared up the rental market lists with his inspired play of late and his ability to play solid, physical hockey.
General manager Kent Hughes had originally mentioned that he desired to keep Brett Kulak unless the offer was too good to pass up.
‘’We like Brett Kulak, we don’t have an interest in moving the player,” said Hughes during his press conference last week.”If there’s an offer we can’t refuse, we’ll consider it. But I can tell you we aren’t actively calling teams to move Kulak.”
For the Montreal Canadiens to have moved Kulak, they must have received an offer that is too good to be true. Acquiring Lagesson a 2nd round pick in 2023 is exactly the kind of return that would have pushed him to make such a move.
The Oilers Get Their Guy
Kulak has been a serviceable defenceman for the Montreal Canadiens since being acquired from the Calgary Flames back in 2018 and has become one of the more stabilizing presences on the backend. His fluid skating style and underrated physical play made him a unique player for the Canadiens, as they used him up and down the lineup on any given night.
Kulak’s playoff experience is also of note. The Canadiens defender suited up for 23 playoff games over the last two seasons, something the Edmonton Oilers likely coveted significantly leading up to the playoffs. Kulak will provide the leadership and defensive acumen that the Oilers sorely lack while being able to play in any given situation, on any given side. That kind of versatility is rare, and the Oilers filled a considerable need leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline.
Brett Kulak is taking souls and scoring goals! pic.twitter.com/aEHoTdKB3h
— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) March 20, 2022
The Canadiens Get Great Value
William Lagesson is an interesting piece to receive, as he can immediately replace Kulak in the lineup amid all the injuries the Canadiens have on the back-end. This also helps the Oilers make the trade work from a monetary perspective, as they couldn’t absorb all of Kulak’s Cap Hit at once.
The 26-year-old rearguard is a bottom-pair, rugged defenseman, who’s in the last year of his $720,000 contract, could help the Canadiens finish up the year and prove he deserves another NHL contract next season. He’s set to be a restricted free-agent and, much like Brett Kulak, likely needs a change of scenery to expand his game and become a more complete defenseman.
The Canadiens also got a very valuable 2022 2nd round pick from the Edmonton Oilers, which would have been, by itself, quite the return for the Canadiens. The Habs now own 4 picks in the top-64 of the 2022 NHL Draft and will have the flexibility to either continue adding to their growing prospect pool or trade for key players in the future.