After four seasons with the New York Islanders, it looks like F Nikolay Kulemin will head overseas to the KHL.
It appears that retaining Nikolay Kulemin was not in the New York Islanders offseason plans, as it’s been reported Kulemin is nearing a reunion with the Metalurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL.
— Aivis Kalniņš (@A_Kalnins) May 24, 2018
Kulemin spent five seasons with the Metallurg Magnitogorsk organization before heading to North America to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2008.
Kulemin returned to the KHL during the 2012-13 lockout-shortened season, playing 36 games with the Metallurg Magnitogorsk with 14 goals and 38 points over that span before returning back to the Maple Leafs once the lockout ended.
The deal with Magnitogorsk will reportedly be announced on July 1st and will be pay Kulemin 200 million rubles, which rounds out to about $3.24 million. It is still unknown if the Islanders attempted to reach out to Kulemin’s camp, or if the two attempted to strike a deal before this announcement.
Kulemin, who signed a four-year deal with the Islanders in summer 2014, played four seasons with the club but was limited to just 13 games (one goal, two assists) this past season due to a season-ending injury on November 7th.
Over four seasons with the Isles, Kulemin played 248 regular-season games, scoring 37 goals and 79 points. Kulemin has been known for his work on the penalty-kill, a special teams unit that failed miserably this past season without him but finished fourth-overall in 2016 during its prime.
If it is the end of Kulemin’s NHL career, it will end after 10 seasons split between the Maple Leafs (six) and the Islanders (four). Over those 10 seasons, Kulemin has played in 669 games registering 121 goals and 274 points.
The defensive-minded forward will surely be missed but this now creates a roster spot that could go to just about anyone. If the Isles are looking for someone to fill his fourth-line role either Tanner Fritz or Ross Johnston might get a chance to prove they can be full-time NHLers.
Of course, all of this is speculation and there is plenty of time to figure that out. With Lou Lamoriello now in charge, anything is possible but one thing we know for sure, he’s gonna do whatever he can to help this team win.
It’s a tough loss for the Islanders and their penalty-kill, only adding to the need for another strong defensive-minded forward.