The Montreal Canadiens benefitted greatly from trading Brett Kulak to the Edmonton Oilers last season, but came close to doubling their value over the summer.
General Manager Kent Hughes built up a market for their coveted defenceman and netted a 2022 2nd roud pick, a 2022 7th round pick and defenceman William Lagesson for their veteran defender.
It was seen as a big win for the Canadiens, who had turned a reliable, 3rd pair defenceman into a top-64 selection. That pick was used to select the dynamic Lane Hutson, who is putting on a show right now in the NCAA with 17 points in just 13 games as a defenceman.
That being said, the Canadiens liked Brett Kulak, and were interested in having him with the team moving forward; something they came quite close to doing this summer.
There were murmurs of the Canadiens and Kulak having potential interest in reconnecting on a deal in the summer.
Then, after the Oilers were eliminated by the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference Final, Brett Kulak mentioned to the media that he would welcome a return to Montreal.
“Of course, there’s a chance that I could be back in Montreal,” Kulak told Jonathan Bernier of Journal de Montreal. “I loved my time with the Montreal Canadiens. From Day 1, they treated me with class. It felt special to be part of that organization.”
It was later confirmed by NHL Insider Pierre Lebrun that the mutual interest between Kulak and the Canadiens indeed existed and that it could come to fruition at the opening of Fee Agency.
“They are interested in bringing him back but they won’t be alone when he hits the market on Wednesday, Lebrun said of the Canadiens’ interest. “I think there will be half a dozen teams. They saw what he brought to the Oilers in that playoff run so there will be a few bids. My sense is that the Habs are going to reach out to Kulak’s camp. They really enjoyed having him, Marty St. Louis, in particular, enjoyed coaching him. I think there will be an offer from Montreal when the market opens on Wednesday.”
Came To The Wire
The Canadiens tried to bring back Kulak, but the 28-year-old simply couldn’t refuse the once-in-a-lifetime deal the Edmonton Oilers had put in front of him.
Kulak ultimately opted to sign a four-year $11M deal worth $2.75M per annum.
At the time, the Canadiens weren’t in a position to offer Kulak that kind of money, as they hadn’t yet traded Jeff Petry and still hadn’t received any enws on the condition of Carey Price.
But management certainly tried to bring back a player they quickly learned to respect and value.
It would have seemingly doubled the value of their trade with the Oilers; securing a promising prospect in Lane Hutson and providing them with a stable presence on the back-end for a few more years.
Brett Kulak confirmed he had discussions with the @CanadiensMTL last summer at the opening of the UFA market.
— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) December 3, 2022