Edmonton Oilers: Breaking down their one and only trade

Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

As I suspected here, the Edmonton Oilers were pretty quiet at the deadline, with only 1 deal made. Surprisingly, it wasn’t for Luke Glendening, who stayed put in Detroit. Here’s what it was:

To Edmonton Oilers:

Left D Dmitry Kulikov

To New Jersey Devils:

2022 conditional 4th round pick (the condition being the pick is upgraded to a 3rd rounder if the Oilers win a playoff series)

There isn’t much to say about this one.  Slater Koekkoek will be out for most of the rest of the regular season and possibly into the playoffs too.  This means the Oilers needed to find a guy to replace him.  Enter the rental Kulikov, who’s a free agent after this season.

Right now without Koekkoek and Caleb Jones still struggling through a sophomore slump and being only a part time NHLer right now, the Oilers were forced to play Kris Russell at the 2nd pairing left D spot, and Russell is better played on the 3rd pairing now.

Factor in that William Lagesson, who started out the season with such promise and has gone so cold he hasn’t even played since Jan. 18, and the Oilers had a vacuum at that roster spot without an internal option to take it.  Russell can tread water there but that’s not exactly ideal.

Cap space wise there isn’t much that changes hands.  Kulikov’s cap hit for the season is $1.15 million.  Prorated to the trade deadline that would be only $287,000.  Koekkoek, on the other hand, has been out since January 13, and if he stays out for the rest of the season that’s roughly around $425,000 of LTIR cap space that the Oilers have to play with, more than enough to cover what Kulikov is going to make for the rest of the season.

If Koekkoek comes back and the Oilers have to pay him more for the rest of the season, the financial penalties from the NHL will actually be quite minimal, so the risk is pretty low.

What are the Edmonton Oilers getting in Kulikov? 

Kulikov isn’t going to produce much offence because he’s not a puck mover, so let’s get that out of the way now.  Kulikov’s career year was 28 points, and that was in 2011-12.  He’s never scored more than 10 goals in a season.  He had 2 assists in 38 games for the Devils this season.

On good teams, Kulikov plays pretty good D.  He’s finished typically above 0 when his team’s playing well, with a career-high of +8 for the playoff-bound Florida Panthers in 2015-16.  He finished above 0 2 out of his 3 years in Winnipeg.

In theory, at least he should be on the + side of things here in Edmonton considering the team around him is at least to playoff contender status.  On a non-playoff Florida Panthers team and a non-playoff Buffalo Sabres team, he finished -26 both years.  Ouch.

He’s been playing quite a bit on the PK once he got established in the NHL.  4 out of 12 seasons he’s had an average of over 2 minutes playing on the PK.  I’m guessing it’s likely that Kulikov will be expected in part to jump-start the Oilers anemic PK, which is 16th in the league this year after finishing 2nd in the league the year before.

Must Read. Oilers get it right by trading for Dmitry Kulikov. light

Who knew we’d actually miss Riley Sheahan for something?  On paper at least this is a solid minor trade on the part of Ken Holland.  Kris Russell can go back to the 3rd pairing and fight it out for the roster spot with Caleb Jones, as it should be.  That takes us to the offseason in which Holland will have plenty of options to fill that spot next season.  We’ll see how it works out once he finishes his quarantine and starts playing some game for us.