Brett Kulak made an immediate impact when he got his chance with the Habs last season. The team clearly liked what they saw from him as they’ve signed him to a three-year deal with a cap hit of $1.85 million per season.
As is seemingly becoming an annual tradition now, Marc Bergevin made a trade just before the season started, bringing in Kulak from Calgary in exchange for Matt Taormina (Laval’s only offensive threat from the back end year before) and Rinat Valiev (one of the players acquired for Tomas Plekanec from Toronto). Kulak started off the season with the Rocket as their number one defender that played in all situations. After being a depth player with Calgary the year before, he handled the extra responsibility quite well and earned himself a recall to the big club in November.
Once he got his opportunity, Kulak didn’t look back. While he started on the third pairing, he wound up getting a chance with Shea Weber briefly before eventually settling into a spot alongside Jeff Petry on the second pair. In the meantime, he significantly improved upon his output the year before with Calgary (2-6-8 in 71 games) by recording six goals and 11 assists in 57 contests. He also posted impressive possession numbers, checking in with a 56.3 CF%, tops among Montreal’s full-time blueliners.
The contract gives him a big raise over the $900,000 he made this past season while giving Montreal a bit more stability on their back end and an extra year of team control as he was two years away from being eligible for unrestricted free agency. The Habs still have several restricted free agents to re-sign this offseason, including wingers Artturi Lehkonen and Joel Armia plus defenseman Mike Reilly.