Nikolai Kulemin | RW
Three points, 31-years-old
Again, just like Andrew Ladd before him, that cap hit is way too large to ignore. An AAV of $4.1875 for a player that scored three points in 13 games is awful. I know his deal is done at the end of the season. And I know that he’s already likely done as an Islanders. But in the hypothetical cut land, that’s a knock.
It’s true that Kulemin is a good fourth line player. His ability to fore-check and get into passing lanes are fantastic. He’s a good solid NHL vet. But his paygrade vastly overvalues his contributions. It’s not like he’s the best in the league at what he does. His skills are absolutely replicable by just about anyone.
So why keep him on the roster with that kind of cap hit when the Islanders can place, say, Alan Quine on the fourth line. Or Steven Gionta even. Anyone
Like we’ve seen with the Pittsburgh Penguins, I don’t like paying the bottom portion of the roster big dollars. With Kulemin on the fourth line next to Clutterbuck and Cizikas, the Isles AAV for fourth line duties jumps to $11.0375 million a year.
And look, Ross Johnston has been outstanding on the Islanders fourth line next to the aforementioned Clutterbuck and Cizikas. Why change that up exactly?
Again, in the real world, the Islanders don’t have to cut Kulemin. They can simply wish him well and let that contract naturally expire. But in this hypothetical world, I’ve constructed, Kulemin is absolutely expendable.