New York Islanders Nikolai Kulemin Heading to KHL (Rumors)

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 18: Nikolay Kulemin
NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 18: Nikolay Kulemin /

It seems that we’ve seen the last of Nikolai Kulemin in a New York Islanders jersey. It wasn’t a surprise that this would be his last year with the Isles.

With his contract expired at New York Islanders forward, Nikolai Kulemin is seemingly going back home to Russia. The free agent will sign a contract with KHL side Metallurg Magnitogorsk.

After missing most of the final year of his contract through injury we all saw a version of this coming. We didn’t think he’d jump to the KHL, perhaps an NHL team could still give him a short-term deal to play in the league another few years.

But when you look at Kulemin’s numbers over the years, you can see a player in decline. So perhaps an NHL deal just wasn’t on the cards and Kulemin read the writing on the wall early.

The Turn Around That Didn’t Happen

The 2014-15 NHL was supposed to be one of renewed success for the Islanders. After finally making the postseason after a five-year absence in 2012-13 the Isles slipped back out of the playoff picture in 2013-14. GM Garth Snow wanted to avoid another slide into obscurity by making a splash in free agency and via the trade market.

Nikolai Kulemin joined the New York Islanders in a busy 2014 offseason. Between July and October Garth Snow brought in Mikhail Grabovski, and Kulemin via free agency and traded for Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk.

The following two seasons after the moves the Islanders made the playoffs. But Kulemin never returned to that 30 goal scorer that Toronto had in 2010-11. Through his four year Islanders career Kulemin only has 37 goals.

His production diminished to a point where he was on pace for 19 points in 82 games this season. A season cut significantly short by injury. Not even his solid two-way play was the same.

His Corsi dipped from 52.1 in year one with the Islanders to 46.8 in year two, to 46.2 by last season. Year over year Kulemin was bringing less to the table in terms of production and less to the table when it came to possession. There was no reason to keep Nikolai Kulemin around.

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With Ross Johnston, Alan Quine, and even Shane Prince on the roster, the Islanders have three options for Nikolai Kulemin’s now available spot on the fourth line. I wish Nikolai Kulemin well in Russia and I hope he’s back to full health.