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BLOG: Tippett, Oilers embracing Kulikov acquisition

As the final stretch drive of the regular season approaches, the Oilers are welcoming the added depth Kulikov brings to the team

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - The National Hockey Trade Deadline has come and gone with Edmonton Oilers President of Hockey Operations & General Manager Ken Holland assisting his player personnel by adding defenceman Dmitry Kulikov to the team.

For members of the Orange & Blue, Holland's decision to keep the lineup intact comes as a boost of confidence. Kulikov's arrival also injects the club with veteran experience and defensive depth for the final stretch of the regular season.

Video: 1-ON-1 | Dmitry Kulikov 04.13.21

"He will bring a lot," Adam Larsson said Tuesday after practice at Rogers Place. 

"Going into a last push here before the playoffs, you need depth and he's a veteran guy that's been in the playoffs a good amount of times. He knows what it takes, is a veteran presence and you can never have too much depth when going into a playoff run."

There is a possibility that the left-shooting Kulikov could line up next to Larsson when he completes his seven-day quarantine and is cleared to join the Oilers.

"Whoever he comes in and plays with, I'm sure we will all support him and help him the best we can to get right into our group and know our systems," Larsson said. "I haven't really talked personally to anyone about how it's going to look moving forward."

Video: RAW | Dave Tippett 04.13.21

Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett pre-scouted Kulikov by watching his body of work with the New Jersey Devils over 38 games this season. The bench boss was impressed with the defender's ability to protect the net and stifle attackers. Tippett also sought the opinion of others around the League and liked what he heard.

"You talk to people about him and they say he's a really good pro that does whatever it takes to win," Tippett said. "He plays kind of a real shutdown, penalty-killing role that I think will help our group. You can never have enough defencemen."

Jujhar Khaira brushed shoulders with Kulikov over years of forechecking in the NHL, meeting the blueliner in brief encounters along the boards and in puck battles. "I've played against him the last few years when he was in Winnipeg and he's a hard player to play against. He plays the right way, plays hard and that's definitely going to help us," Khaira said.

Video: RAW | Adam Larsson 04.13.21

Edmonton's stretch drive will see the team compete 14 times in 28 days to close out the 2020-21 season beginning Friday at Rogers Arena against the Vancouver Canucks. Given the club's performance this year and their recent Trade Deadline addition, players are optimistic about the road ahead.

"The organization didn't do a whole lot of pickups this Trade Deadline so it shows they believe in us and that's a good sign," Larsson said. "We have a big belief in this group in this locker room."

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