Toronto Maple Leafs, Nikolai Kulemin Currently Discussing New Contract
The Toronto Maple Leafs’ off-season has only begun.
After drafting defenceman Morgan Rielly with the fifth overall selection the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, moving goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to the Winnipeg Jets and swapping Luke Schenn for James van Riemsdyk last weekend, Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke is now in the process of re-signing pending free agents.
One of those pending free agents is Nikolai Kulemin, who is set to become an RFA when the free agent market opens on Canada Day.
“I have a plan for Nikolai Kulemin,” Gary Greenstin, Kulemin’s agent, told The Hockey Writers via email on Monday evening. ”I mentioned that Nikolai Kulemin loves the city and the organization. He would like to remain in Toronto. He has a great chemistry with [Grabovski] and McArthur.”
As many are already projecting, the negotiations between Kulemin’s camp and the Maple Leafs could get nasty this summer. The main reason for that is the fact that Kulemin had somewhat of an off-year in terms of offensive production.
The 25-year-old saw his totals dip from 30 goals and 27 assists in 2010-2011 to just seven goals and 21 assists last season. It wasn’t all bad though, as Kulemin managed to maintain a high level of defensive play. Given the two sides to Kulemin’s season, no one can be more than 50 percent sure that he and the Leafs will hammer out a new deal any time soon.
“We will see what happens,” Greenstin added in his email to The Hockey Writers. “They have to do what is best for the team and I have to do the best for my client.”
Kulemin joined the Leafs in 2006 when they drafted him in the second round, 44th overall. He played his rookie season in 2008-2009 and managed 15 goals. After that, Kulemin’s totals improved each season up until 2011-2012. In 303 career regular season games, Kulemin has scored 68 goals and has assisted on another 84 to go along with a career rating of plus-one. He has not appeared in the post-season.