Minnesota Wild trade Dmitry Kulikov to Ducks for possible free agent signing?

minnesota wild dmitry kulikov
Apr 14, 2022; Dallas, Texas, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Dmitry Kulikov (7) with the puck during the first period against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Wild created some salary cap breathing room by trading defenseman Dmitry Kulikov to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for future considerations. With Wednesday’s transaction the Wild shipped out $2.250 million.

According to CapFriendly, the Minnesota Wild now have $5.7 million in space with 20 players. This will allow GM Bill Guerin some additional flexibility to sign a UFA forward like Evan Rodrigues to bolster the lineup.

Minnesota Wild trade Dmitry Kulikov

Kulikov, 31, registered 24 points in 80 games last season. He was also a +23 with 39 penalty minutes after signing a one-year deal with the Wild on July 28, 2021.

“This is a tough one, because he had a great year last year, played very well for us, but we need some more cap space,” Guerin said via NHL.com. “We felt we had maybe one too many defensemen and we don’t want to put guys in a position to where they’re not playing or not playing enough. This has been talked about for quite a while with Anaheim, so it just kind of came to a head today, but we wish him nothing but the best.”

Kulikov was the 14th overall pick in the 2009 Draft by the Florida Panthers. For his career, he’s totaled 198 points and 494 penalty minutes in 805 games with Florida (2009-16), Buffalo (2016-17), Winnipeg (2017-20), New Jersey (2020-21), Edmonton (2020-21), and Minnesota (2021-22).

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Mar 29, 2022; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Dmitry Kulikov (7) congratulates goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) after a save against the Philadelphia Flyers in the third period at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Wild training camp should be opening in a few weeks, and there are several UFA forwards still out there.

Rodrigues, 29, scored 43 points in 82 games on a one-year deal worth $1,000,000 with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season.

Per a recent ESPN report, Rodrigues’ agent Darren Ferris said there are around 7-8 teams interested in signing the center/winger, but the hold up is their ability to move money out to accommodate. Two teams mentioned by name are the Penguins and Calgary Flames.

If the Wild miss out on Rodrigues there are several other options available like Tyler Motte, Sonny Milano, and Victor Rask.