Random Thoughts: Zack Kassian, Duncan Keith, and Brett Kulak

Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
8 months ago
The NHL’s annual fishing derby wrapped up for another year and the Oilers ended up being pretty busy even though I wasn’t necessarily expecting that to be the case. Not only did the Oilers swing a deal to move Zack Kassian to Arizona, but they also got word that Duncan Keith would be retiring as well, and that gives us plenty to talk about heading into free agency.


On Thursday night, Ken Holland pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Zack Kassian to the Arizona Coyotes to clear up $3.2 million in cap space, and I’ll be the first to admit that I was legitimately surprised this deal happened. Even though we had heard about the Oilers trying to move on from Kass for a while now, part of me didn’t think Holland was going to be able to pull it off. I was sure that the only way he wouldn’t be playing for the Oilers next season was if the team bought him out. As it turns out, they had to spend a couple of draft picks from years from now to get Arizona to bite, and I honestly don’t think it’s that big of a deal. The Oilers need cap space to check things off their to-do list here in 2022, so to get overly worked up about draft picks that could maaaaybe turn into NHL players way later than that doesn’t make sense to me. If anything, the more annoying part of this trade is that Ken Holland had to fix his own mistake, but I’ll wait to see how he spends the cap space before being overly critical. To me, this was a way better outcome than adding another buyout to their books.


Even when Duncan Keith seemed to be speaking in the past tense during his year-end media availability, I probably wouldn’t have believed you if you had told me he’d be retiring a month or so after he spoke. As much as I figured it would be nice to get the $5.5 million in cap space that having Keith shut it down would provide, I was assuming that he was going to come back for one last tour of duty, especially after his team made it to the Western Conference Finals. Yet, just over a month after the Oilers’ final game, here we are saying goodbye to the future Hall of Famer and wondering what kind of wild ride our GM will take us on with the cap space he leaves behind. Having Keith shut it down is one thing, but what the Oilers do to replace him is another story entirely. At the end of the day, while the two-time Norris winner was no longer the defenceman he was when the Blackhawks were winning Stanley Cups, I thought he was solid overall on the backend and even though I didn’t like the trade that brought him here, I don’t think it’s going to be that easy to cover the 19:44 in TOI he brought to the table.


This past week on Oilersnation Radio, we took guesses as to whether or not Jesse Puljujarvi would still be with the Edmonton Oilers by the end of the NHL Draft and, as it turns out, the answer was yes. How long will the situation stay that way? We’ll have to wait and see. All I know for sure is that the Oilers found a way to clear $8.7 million in cap space this week and not a dollar of that money came from Jesse Puljujarvi changing teams as a sweetener or something silly like that. On the other hand, part of me was looking for an ending and having this drag on through the summer will result in a dead horse that everyone’s had a chance to kick. Will they? Won’t they? The wait continues.


Do it. DO IT! DO IT NOW! With Duncan Keith heading into chill mode, the Oilers will need to bolster that left side and I’m hoping that Brett Kulak is part of that equation. From my side of the TV screen, I thought Kulak was rock solid for the Oilers after coming over from Montreal, and I think it would be in the team’s best interest to bring him back for another tour of duty. And if he’s going to be signed in the $3 million ballpark that Spector is speculating that he’ll land in. Call me crazy but when I see the Oilers’ defensive group, I think they need more guys that can skate, compete, and move the puck like Kulak. If there’s a deal to be had here with the hometown boy then I’m certainly hoping that Ken Holland can find a way.

Check out these posts...