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Canadiens Kulak Trade Yielding Interesting Results For Both Teams



Brett Kulak Canadiens

When the Montreal Canadiens traded Brett Kulak to the Edmonton Oilers the assets involved seemed like a fair exchange for all involved.

The Canadiens received William Lagesson, a conditional 2022 second-round pick, and a 2024 seventh-round pick in exchange for Kulak, who was in the final year of a three-year contract that paid him a very modest $1.85 million per season.

The condition for the second pick was the following: If the Oilers reach the Stanley Cup final, Montreal will receive Edmonton’s 2023 second-round pick instead.

Fortunately for the Habs, the Oilers did not reach the Cup final and the second-round pick did not defer to the 2023 Draft.

Second-Round Star

The Canadiens ended up selecting a diminutive defenceman with the second-round pick they acquired from the Oilers, a player who probably shouldn’t have been available with the 62nd overall pick.

And while Lane Hutson‘s rookie season was one of the most impressive freshman campaigns in NCAA history, it’s worth noting that according to a very well-placed source, even the Canadiens were divided when it came to drafting the Michigan native.

But despite the lack of a consensus among the scouting team, the Canadiens bet on talent, a strategy that rarely backfires in the NHL Draft.

Hutson would go on to earn 15 goals and 33 assists in 39 games with the Boston University Terriers and is now projected to be a defenceman who possesses top-pair talent.

There’s still a lot of work to be done on the defensive side of things, but there’s simply no ignoring an 18-year-old defenceman who outscored the majority of the NCAA in his rookie season.

Well, there’s no ignoring it unless you happen to be involved in the Hobey Baker Award voting, but that’s another subject entirely.

Third-Pairing Anchor

The Oilers, who quickly re-signed Kulak to a four-year, $2.75 million annual average value contract, have also benefited greatly from the exchange.

For teams like the Oilers, who put an onus on their offensive firepower, a player like Kulak checks a lot of crucial boxes.

He can jump into the rush and support the many talented forwards on the roster, while also maintaining strong defensive positioning in his own zone.

He’s a hybrid defenceman that processes the game at a higher level than most, which almost always leads to great on-ice results.

To put a fine point on his impact, we can consider that Kulak leads all Oilers’ defencemen this postseason in the following 5v5 statistical categories (as of May 9th):

  • Shot share (59.3 CF%)
  • Scoring-chance share (61.3 SCF%)
  • High-danger scoring chance share (68.9 HDCF%)
  • Expected goal share (67.3%)

Anything above 50 percent should be considered a decent showing. Anything nearing 55 percent is great. Numbers that push beyond 60 percent are flat-out excellent.

Obviously, usage will impact the results, but there’s no denying that the Oilers have dominated their opponents whenever Kulak has been on the ice.

If we throw every NHL defenceman into the mix, Kulak still ranks quite highly.

He’s second in shot share, trailing only the 2021 Norris Trophy winner, Cale Makar, who controlled over 63 percent of the shots during his first-round series versus the Seattle Kraken.

Oh, and he’s also first in the NHL when it comes to his high-danger scoring chance share (HDCF%), as well as his expected goal share (xGF%).

Simply put, Kulak has been a force to be reckoned with in these playoffs.

And he’s done it with the same quiet confidence that led him to be one of the most reliable defencemen during his tenure with the Canadiens.

Brass Tacks

When you consider Marc Bergevin originally acquired him in exchange for AHL players Rinat Valiev and Matt Taormina, the mere fact that Kulak provided the Habs with four years of above-average hockey makes it one of the better deals in recent team history.

Once you add a prospect such as Hutson to the mix, the deal swings heavily in favour of the Canadiens, at least when you weigh their long-term ambitions.

But there are several variables in play.

As good as he’s been, Hutson, who turned 19 in March, is still far removed from making his NHL debut. He’s likely to carve out a role in the NHL in the future, but there’s no guarantee he will even wear a Canadiens jersey, let alone become a dominant player.

Whereas Kulak has already made an impact in the NHL with his new team.

He won’t command many headlines, but he will allow his coach to rest easy knowing that he does not have to spend much of his precious playoff preparation time worrying about Kulak’s ice time.

With the Canadiens preparing for a bright future and the Oilers attempting to seize the day, the Kulak deal epitomizes the concept of a win-win trade in the NHL.

All statistics are 5v5 unless otherwise noted, via NaturalStatTrick.

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john harmsworth

I thought Kulak developed into one of our (Habs) best defencemen while he was here. The secret sauce appeared to be his confidence. It was evident as he developed that w3hen he was confident he made good judgements about when to jump up and wehen he wasn’t,he held back more. Maybe the Luke Richardson effect?


Lane Hutson will be a very good NHL player. It’s only a matter of time. He’s still developing/growing. He’s got so much talent and it will happen in due time.


I’m glad Kulak is getting some recognition. I was a big supporter of his while he was a member of the Habs. His skating stride was beautiful when he wound it up. Kind of a Matheson-lite. If he was still here under Marty, I think he’d have blossomed like he has in Edmonton.


Happy to have him in Edmonton


If you look at all the habs players that have been traded away or lost in free agency in the past 2 years or so, they’ve all over-performed, which actually bodes well for more teams wanting to trade for a present habs player because the word out is that if you pick up a Montreal player, chances are good that he will excel away from Mtl.. Look how good Daneault has been or Toffoli, Kulak ,Sergachev, Lekhonen, Romanov etc….even Dadinov and Domi are having very decent playoffs…So Montreal’s reputation is very high , they provide excellent players to other teams, very few duds lately, they don’t rip off other GM’s..

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