The clips this week are courtesy of pOOnjabiHD
Nikolai Kulemin is the longest serving Leafs player and a valuable member of the current team. The 27 year old Kulemin is a an extremely underrated contributor to the club and someone who does a thankless job night in and night out. Kulemin is actually the type of player that so many people think Jay McClement is. As seen above, he is much more physical than people give him credit for and is not someone who can be muscled off the puck. Kulemin is very much a Randy Carlyle type guy as he plays that hard style the Leafs coach longs for. Adept at the cycle and defensively responsible, Kulemin is a guy winning teams have on their roster.
Many look to the 27 year old Russian and concern themselves with his lack of offensive production, yet the fact that he has been deployed primarily in a defensive role prohibits him from producing the numbers people expect from him. Kulemin has proven that he can put up numbers when used offensively, but with wingers like Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, James Van Riemsdyk, David Clarkson and Mason Raymond on the roster he has seen himself pigeonholed into a different role. Should the Leafs need a winger to slide up to play on one of the scoring lines Kulemin is a great option to have. Again, good teams have this kind of depth.
A pending unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of this season, the Leafs are at the point where they must decide to either sign him or cash in on him as a valuable trade chip. Personally, I’d prefer the Leafs to bring back the big bodied winger this summer. Aside from Dion Phaneuf this summer, I think Kulemin is the most important UFA General Manager Dave Nonis needs to get under contract. Hopefully, Nonis finds a way to re-sign Kulemin. If not, he is a player that the Leafs will desperately miss.
Have a nice weekend.