The Edmonton Oilers have re-signed free agent defenceman Brett Kulak to a four-year contract worth $11 million, or $2.75 million per season. This contract carries him through the 2025-26 season.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) July 13, 2022
Brett Kulak Signed Contract after Up-and-Down Season
Over his eight-year NHL career, Kulak played for the Calgary Flames, Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers thus far. The Flames drafted him back in 2012 with their fourth-round, 105th overall selection. In total, Kulak collected 15 goals and 49 assists for 64 points through 334 career games. In 2021-22, he posted five goals and 16 assists for 21 points in 74 games, a new career-high point total for a single season.
Kulak started last season with the lowly Habs, entering the final year of a three-year deal he signed with the club. He first arrived in Montreal back in 2018, a couple of months after agreeing to a one-year extension with Calgary. That extension worked itself out via arbitration, as Kulak held that right at the time with his RFA status. It appeared the Flames left that process unhappy with the result, and they dealt the defenceman to Montreal for a pair of prospects.
At the trade deadline last year, Montreal sent Kulak to Edmonton in exchange for a pair of picks and a prospect. The Habs retained half of Kulak’s salary as well. He played every night available for Edmonton, including 16 postseason contests. Kulak contributed five assists in those playoff games, averaging 17:06 per night in ice time.
What This Means for the Future
Kulak plays a defence-first style of hockey. His 6’2, 190-pound frame helps him move bodies in his own end as well as block shots. He blocked 15 in 18 regular season contests. He bumped that average up for the playoffs, though. In two fewer playoff appearances, he managed 22 blocked shots, along with 31 hits.
Possession-wise, Kulak posted a 3.7% relative Corsi-for percentage in his short regular season stint for the Oilers. That total sits marginally better than his career average. In the playoffs, the number slipped to -7.0%. However, much of that can be attributed to a shift in his usage.
After starting shifts in his own zone nearly as often as the offensive zone during the regular season, he started just 39.6% of shifts in the offensive zone in playoffs. His deployment became much more focused in his own end. Naturally, he spent more minutes defending and his statistics skewed in that direction. Let’s also not forget the four-game sweep from the Colorado Avalanche, who outmatched the Oilers each night at all ends of the ice. That is no disrespect to Kulak, but a testament to what is asked of players when matching up against either Nathan Mackinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog, or Nazem Kadri, Valeri Nichushkin, and Andre Burakovsky.
The Oilers parted with Duncan Keith, too, who elected to retire after a long, successful career. Kulak brings a solid total of NHL experience to his new team and plays a strong defensive game as a third-pair guy. He may be able to slot higher if paired with a strong partner in the top four but really is best suited as a fifth or sixth defenceman in an NHL lineup.
Brett Kulak was an excellent addition at the deadline for the @EdmontonOilers
He finished with 2-11-13/+13 in 34 regular season and playoff games and averaged just over 17:00 TOI.
He is a pending UFA.
Looked good as an Oiler IMO pic.twitter.com/quPVwUUX4c
— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) June 8, 2022