The Florida Panthers recently traded Kris Versteeg to the Chicago Blackhawks, and the fire sale that many thought would come weeks ago appears to be coming to fruition. According to The Fourth Period, the Panthers “continue to field calls” on defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, who is in the final year of his current contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.
In return for the promising yet under-performing defender, the Panthers appear to be looking for young assets. Which is odd since Kulikov is a young asset himself. Rebuilding teams are typically reluctant to move potentially outstanding players on the blue line, but all the bets seem to be off for Florida.
Who knows what kinds of conversations they’ve had with the kid up to this point. They could be looking at moving him just because they know that he won’t re-sign, or maybe they just don’t like where he’s at on his development curve and want to get something out of him before he’s viewed as a bust.
At this point he seems like a risk worth taking for other teams, and the likes of the Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings, Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers have all called about the 23-year-old according to The Fourth Period.
Again, moving the defender seems like a very strange move unless the Panthers know that he can’t be re-signed, so it may take a bit of a highball package to land the blueliner. Players of Kulikov’s ilk don’t become available on the market too often though, and a team like Edmonton could certainly use a promising player on the back end.