New York Islanders Should Keep Nikolay Kulemin
By Frank Molinari
The New York Islanders have many problems to solve this offseason. One that they should solve is renewing Nikolay Kulemin’s contract, as long as he takes a pay cut.
Nikolay Kulemin was a forgotten man this season. In a super offensive season, the New York Islanders finishing eighth in NHL scoring. Unfortunately, they continuously leaked goals with a league-worst 296 goals against.
The Islanders’ defensive game has been a major problem this year and is the main reason they didn’t make the playoffs. Nikolay Kulemin was a big name not filled on Doug Weight’s roster sheet for the season.
Kulemin missed 69 games due to an injury to his shoulder.
The Islanders missed the solid defensive winger, along with others. For example,
Calvin de Haan missed 49 games.
Missing some key players through large parts of the year hurt the Islanders.
The Islanders Missed Nikolay Kulemin
The Islanders, at a defensive standpoint, were terrible. The best forwards were horrible defensively for the team on a nightly basis. They were terrible back-checkers and were awful when the other team had the puck in the Islanders’ zone.
Kulemin is a tremendous player to have when the opposing team has the puck and the Islanders showed they missed him in those areas, especially on the penalty kill. The Islanders were last in penalty kill percentage this season with 73.2%.
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Compare that to the season before where they were at 81.9% (11th in the league) with Kulemin getting a lot of penalty kill minutes. The difference in penalty kill efficiency wasn’t all because of Kulemin’s services, but it played a big part.
Resigning Nikolay Kulemin
As long as Kulemin takes a pay cut, the Islanders should absolutely resign Kulemin. Let me repeat, as long as Kulemin takes a pay cut.
In the 17-18 season, Kulemin earned $5.25 million with an AAV of $4,187,500. That is far too high. If Kulemin is willing to receive a significantly lower amount of money, he would be a great signing. The Islanders should sign him to a one year, $1 million contract or a two year, $2 million.
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That way the Islanders can sign him at reasonable wages and not have to commit too many years on his contract. If the Islanders can get either of these scenarios, it is a win for both parties. Kulemin must be in an Islanders uniform next year.