One Year Later: The Dmitry Kulikov Trade

Photo: USA Today

By Thomas Harrington

One year ago, the Anaheim Ducks acquired Dmitry Kulikov from the Minnesota Wild for future considerations. A year later and Kulikov is already gone from Anaheim; he was traded at the deadline to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Kulikov signed a two-year deal with Minnesota in July 2021. He had a solid first season for them, scoring seven goals and 24 points in 80 games. The seven goals were the second-most of his career and the 24 points were the third-most, and the highest since he had 28 in the 2011-2012 season. However, things turned sour in the playoffs. He had a rough game one against St. Louis and was then scratched for the next four games. Kulikov returned to the lineup for game six but had another poor showing. As a result, Minnesota was trying to trade Kulikov throughout the summer with little luck and finally found a trade partner in Anaheim.

There was no question that Anaheim was looking to upgrade its blueline, and essentially paid nothing to acquire Kulikov. Besides a rough postseason, the Wild were trying to clear cap space while also wanting to give prospect Calen Addison a chance to get more time in the NHL.

With the Ducks, Kulikov was part of what was arguably the worst defensive core in the league. At this point in his career, Kulikov can work as a bottom pairing player, but with the Ducks, he was third on the defense in ice-time, trailing only Cam Fowler and John Klingberg and averaging over 20 minutes a night. Overall, he played in 61 games and scored three goals and 12 points. Kulikov had an ugly -11 rating, but among Anaheim defensemen who played in at least 20 games, that was actually the best rating. With the playoffs a distant dream, the Ducks traded Kulikov to Pittsburgh for forward Brock McGinn and a 2024 3rd round draft pick.

With Kulikov gone, Addison was given more time with Minnesota and played in a career-high 62 games. He scored three goals and 29 points. However, his overall game didn’t develop as the Wild hoped, and they ended up trading for a defenseman at the deadline, picking up Klingberg from the Ducks.

A year later, and the Ducks are definitive winners in this deal. That doesn’t mean the Wild lost, they did exactly what they wanted to do. They freed up cap space and a roster spot, allowing them to give more time to one of their defensive prospects. But the Ducks acquired a player for nothing and turned him into a third round pick and a useful bottom six player. McGinn played in 15 games to end the season and scored two goals and three points. The draft pick won’t be used for another year, but if the Ducks can find a solid NHL player or even a useful AHL player, this trade will look even better for them in the years to come.

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August 31th, 2023


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