Source: Bruins have discussed Kulikov trade with Panthers

Source: Bruins have discussed Kulikov trade with Panthers

With the Arizona Coyotes shipping out a fifth round pick to the Dallas Stars for the right to negotiate with impending free agent defenseman Alex Goligoski, the Game of NHL Thrones: Defensemen Edition has begun. The Boston Bruins would have been, and could still be, a potential suitor for Goligoski as a free agent should he have reached the market on July 1, and they’ve also been working the phones behind the scenes in trade discussions.

One of the blueliners the Bruins have expressed interest in a potential trade for is Florida Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, according to a hockey source. The discussions are believed to be more tire-kicking than in-depth trade discussions at this point. The Russian-born defenseman isn’t necessarily on the trade block either, but the belief is the Black and Gold have been very proactive about trying to solve their D-man dilemma.

The 25-year-old Kulikov is in the last year of his contract with a cap hit of $4.3 million, and will be a free agent following the 2016-17 season. The 6-foot-1, 204-pounder finished with a goal and 17 assists in 74 games with the Panthers last season while averaging 21:02 of ice time, and was utilized as a top-pairing D-man with Aaron Ekblad at points throughout last year.

Kulikov has averaged four goals and 20 points a season over his seven NHL seasons with the Panthers, and is unquestionably a top-4 NHL defenseman that would upgrade the Bruins blueline situation. The Florida D-man would also make an interesting Plan B if some of the other potential defense trade targets, like Kevin Shattenkirk, end up falling through as they did for Boston last season.

B’s general manager Don Sweeney has said finding a “transitional defenseman” was at the top of his priority list, and that upgrading the back end was something Boston simply had to do this summer.

“We’ve got [defensemen] pieces in place that will hopefully push the group that we currently have and that’s what you want,” said Sweeney, when discussing the Kevan Miller contract extension several weeks ago. “You want that internal competition that players feel like they better perform. But we’re also looking outside the marketplace because we need to continue to transition the puck better.”

The sticking point with Kulikov is that he’s essentially a rental with one year to go until unrestricted free agency, and the cost would something in the neighborhood of Boston’s 29th pick in the first round and a Frank Vatrano-level prospect. That’s a stiff cost, and it should give everybody the kind of premium price tags associated with defensemen on the trade market for the next few months.  

Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs

Erik Karlsson and wife Melinda mourn death of their son

File Photo

Erik Karlsson and wife Melinda mourn death of their son

The Ottawa Senators announced Tuesday that team captain Erik Karlsson and his wife Melinda lost their son one month before his due date.


"The collective thoughts and prayers of the Ottawa Senators organization, the city of Ottawa and entire hockey community rest with Erik and Melinda Karlsson following the loss of their son.

We ask that you respect the family's wishes for privacy during the grieving process."

The couple announced via Instagram in November that they were expecting, and the CBC reports the baby was due in April.

Sens head coach Guy Boucher spoke about the tragedy after Ottawa's game vs the Panthers on Tuesday (1:36 mark in video below).

Karlsson, a rumored Bruins target before the trade deadline, received heartfelt condolences from the hockey world on Twitter:

Our thoughts too go out to Erik and Melinda during this incredibly difficult time.


Morning Skate: Best all-time college hockey lineups

NBC Sports Boston Photo

Morning Skate: Best all-time college hockey lineups

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while welcoming in spring with open arms.


*Interesting exercise from ESPN putting together the best all-time lineups for a number of college hockey programs. We know about a lot of the powerhouse programs, but UVM could put together a pretty damn good lineup based on the players that have come out of the Catamounts program, including former and current Bruins Tim Thomas and Kevan Miller.


*Jack Eichel scoffs at the notion that his ankle injury should have caused the Sabres star to shut it down for the rest of the season.


*Nice work by Star Wars Rebels showrunner Dave Filoni to put together a Star Wars jersey again this season for the Wilkes Barre Scranton Penguins.


*Rob Rossi has got some major issues with ESPN the Magazine omitting Sidney Crosby from their Most Dominant Athletes of the last 20 years list. Yeah, I’d say that doesn’t make any sense. Not that anybody really cares about ESPN the Magazine or anything.


*Strange times with the CWHL as Cassie Campbell Pascal has resigned from her role as a CWHL Governor ahead of the league’s marquee weekend.


*The Golden Knights and Marc-Andre Fleury are both tied together in their rise toward the top of the NHL this season.


*For something completely different: Never before has a mustache been talked about as much as the CGI mustache for Henry Cavill in Justice League, and now it’s gone forever.