Penguins bulk up defense, land Kulikov from Ducks

ByRyan S. Clark ESPN logo
Friday, March 3, 2023

Dmitry Kulikov is on the move with the Anaheim Ducks trading the veteran defenseman to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Ducks will receive a 2024 third-round pick in the deal, as well as veteran forward Brock McGinn.

The 32-year-old Kulikov gives the Penguins another top-six defenseman they believe can help strengthen their chances of returning to the playoffs. The Penguins entered Friday in the first of two Eastern Conference wild-card spots. They have a one-point lead on the New York Islanders, the team occupying the second wild-card spot.

Pittsburgh also has a five-point advantage over four teams -- the Buffalo Sabres, Ottawa Senators, Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals.

A pending unrestricted free agent, Kulikov was among players who was expected to be moved going into the deadline. One of the items that made Kulikov a potential option in addition to his contract situation is that he was second on the Ducks in 5-on-5 ice time while also leading the Ducks in short-handed minutes.

The Penguins rank 18th in goals allowed per game while also ranking 16th on the penalty kill.

Earlier in the day, the Penguins also reacquired veteran forward Nick Bonino, 34, from the San Jose Sharks. Pittsburgh sent a fifth- and a seventh-round pick in this summer's draft to San Jose to complete the deal.

Even though the year is not determined yet on that third-round pick, it still gives the Ducks one more piece of draft capital. They have nine picks for the 2023 draft, nine for 2024 and seven for 2025.

Furthermore, the Ducks are among the number of teams in the running to win the draft lottery and select the presumed No. 1 pick,Connor Bedard. They came into Friday with the third-fewest points in the NHL, only two ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets for the lowest total in the league.