In the days leading up to the regular season in past years, the Habs have been active making minor moves and this season is no exception. Montreal has acquired defenceman Brett Kulak from Calgary in exchange for blueliners Rinat Valiev and Matt Taormina.
The 24-year-old Kulak was a regular for the most part of Calgary’s back end last season. He played in 71 games with the Flames, picking up eight points while averaging 12:59 per game. He passed through waivers over the offseason in advance of his salary arbitration hearing and was awarded a one-year, $900,000 contract (one-way). He also cleared waivers earlier today which frees him up to be assigned to Laval.
Montreal acquired Valiev last season as part of the Tomas Plekanec trade. While he was expected to get a look with the big club, he was injured in his first game and played in just a handful of games between the Canadiens the Rocket the rest of the way.
Taormina is someone that doesn’t have any NHL upside but is a proven producer in the minors. The 31-year-old has been an elite point producer in the minors, picking up 52 points last season in the minors after notching 60 the year before. He will certainly be missed on Laval’s back end as their top offensive threat by far.
From Montreal’s perspective, the trade accomplishes a few things. Kulak is a better option for an injury recall than either of the players they dealt away. They also freed up a contract spot (and considering they were at 48, that’s not insignificant). Kulak also doesn’t qualify for veteran status in the AHL so Laval has an additional veteran slot to work with. (It will be interesting to see if Simon Despres fills that slot, either on the AHL deal the team offered him today or on an NHL two-way deal with the contract slot freed up.)