With Nikolay Kulemin heading to the KHL, the New York Islanders are going to have to find a replacement on the fourth line.
Nikolay Kulemin played in only 13 games before his season was ended with an injury. The New York Islanders played 69 games without him last year, but are still going to need a full-time replacement for Kulemin on the fourth line as it was announced he’s KHL bound.
Yes, Kulemin was overpaid. There was no way that he was worth that $4.19 million cap hit a year, but he was still a productive penalty killer and fourth line player. His first year with the Islanders was his best year when he had 31 points (15 goals, 16 assists). He followed that up with a 22 and 23 point season respectively before missing a majority of the 2017-18 season.
Last year, the Islanders never really replaced him. They used a variety of different forwards to fill the role, but only one stood out and that was Ross Johnston.
Ross had six points (three goals, three assists) in 24 games and had a presence as a fighter in the few games he did play racking up 62 penalty minutes. Johnston is a cheaper option who can fill a Matt Martin like role for this team.
Johnston is an RFA coming off a season where he made $666,667. At the absolute most his cap number will be $1 million at the NHL level. With overhauls on defense and goalie needed it’d be nice to have an option on the fourth line that isn’t severely overpaid.
Isles Tweet of The Day
Rumors: Kulemin to sign with KHL
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.
History: 38 years since first Stanley Cup
The New York Islanders have had little success recently, but their golden age began 38 years ago today.