Another change to Florida’s defense, as Panthers trade Kulikov to Sabres

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BUFFALO — A few days ago, Panthers GM Tom Rowe said he wasn’t “shopping” defenseman Dmitry Kulikov.

Today, Kulikov was traded to Buffalo, along with the 33rd overall draft pick, which the Sabres used to select Swedish forward Rasmus Asplund.

In return, the Sabres sent 24-year-old defenseman Mark Pysyk to Florida, along with the 38th overall pick (which the Panthers used to select Kitchener forward Adam Mascherin) and the 89th overall pick.

Sabres GM Tim Murray had been looking for a young, left-shot defenseman, and Kulikov, 25, is that. But he isn’t particularly cheap. He’s got a $4.3 million cap hit next season, and then he can become an unrestricted free agent.

For the Panthers, the trade further alters a blue line that’s already been significantly altered this offseason. Out went Erik Gudbranson, traded to Vancouver. Brian Campbell is also expected to leave; he can become an unrestricted free agent and hit the market on July 1. And, of course, Keith Yandle was the big acquisition.

Kulikov averaged 21:02 of ice time per game last season. Gudbranson was at 20:07, Campbell led the team at 22:17.

Related: Panthers ink prospect McCoshen to entry-level deal