BUFFALO – The Sabres swapped defensemen and draft picks with the Florida Panthers this morning, trading Mark Pysyk and the 38th and 89th selections to the Florida Panthers for Dmitry Kulikov and the 33rd pick.
The Sabres used that selection to take Swedish center Rasmus Asplund, who centered Alexander Nylander, the eighth overall pick by Buffalo, at the world junior championship.
Kulikov, 25, could be the left-handed defenseman Sabres general manager Tim Murray covets. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Russian has 28 goals and 138 points in 460 NHL games. The Panthers drafted Kulikov 14th overall in 2009.
Meanwhile, Pysyk, 24, played 125 games with the Sabres, compiling five goals and 26 points. The Sabres drafted him 24th overall in 2010.
Update: More on the deal from Murray, which he said he began working on a couple weeks ago:
“We like (Kulikov) as a player. We have a need for a left-shot D. He had an outstanding playoff for them. I thought he was their best D.”
On losing Pysyk:
“You have to trade away a good player, and Mark is a very good player. Mark is kind of an analytics darling, and we know that. So we knew there’d be a little pushback on that.”
On Kulikov’s talents:
“He brings an edge. He’s hard. He’s not going to fight. He’s not going to be a guy players are sitting on the bench afraid to play against. But you have to keep your head up when he’s on the ice. He’ll hit you, he’ll submarine you, he’ll make you pay the price if you keep your head down. I think he’s excellent defensively. He’s not offensive, but I think he has a little more to give.”
Murray also said the Sabres plan to reach out to Tampa Bay Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos’ camp. Stamkos could become perhaps the most coveted unrestricted free agent ever Friday. Beginning today, teams are allowed to contact players and agents.
“I have to ask that question,” Murray said about gauging Stamkos’ interest. “I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t.