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The Anaheim Ducks acquired veteran defenseman Dmitry Kulikov from the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday, in exchange for future considerations.
Kulikov is 31 years old and played 80 games with the Wild this season, registering seven goals and 24 points. The defenseman averaged 18:11 per game last season with the Wild, including almost two minutes per game on the penalty kill. His contract has a single year remaining on it, at a $2.25 million cap hit.
In the deal, the Ducks are acquiring an experienced defender who can really help to stabilize the left side of their defense group. Given the lack of experience on the blue line after the likes of Cam Fowler, Kevin Shattenkirk and now John Klingberg, adding Kulikov also helps to ensure there isn't too much pressure placed on young defenders like Jamie Drysdale, Urho Vaakanainen and Simon Benoit.
Given the Ducks were able to add a serviceable defenseman for free, you can’t argue with the move. With a single year remaining on Kulikov’s contract and the Ducks not facing any pressure to contend, it's a no-risk move.
It would still be more worthwhile for the Ducks to use their cap space to take on a bad contract, in order to add future assets. That said, considering Anaheim still has almost $17 million in cap space remaining, the deal doesn’t have much of an effect on the team’s cap flexibility anyways.
Kulikov could help out in the short-term and between the additions of John Klingberg, Ryan Strome and Frank Vatrano as well, the Ducks really do look quite a bit more competitive heading into the season. Even if Anaheim struggles, there’s also always the possibility to retain salary and flip Kulikov at the deadline for assets.
Regardless, the Ducks managed to add a veteran defender for nothing and really can’t go wrong with this move.