Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Dean Kukan is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and he isn’t expected back. While playing for Switzerland at the World Championship, Kukan told SRF that he will return home next season to play in the National League, though wouldn’t confirm which team.
Kukan, 28, was a regular in the Blue Jackets lineup the last few seasons, playing in 41 games this year. Signed to a two-year, $3.3MM deal in 2020, he would have entered the market as an interesting depth option that has more than 150 games of NHL experience. Still, even the Blue Jackets never iced him much, with Kukan averaging just over 16 minutes a night this season, and he provides almost no offensive upside with 30 career points.
It will be interesting to see how long his new contract is, and if it will essentially end his career in North America. Given he will turn 29 in July and obviously wants to return home, this season may have been the last we’ll see him in the NHL.
Undrafted, he came up through the ZSC Lions program before heading to Sweden back in 2011, meaning this will be quite the homecoming for the 2016 Calder Cup champion.