Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
Brian Erni and I continue our annual season review, taking a look back at the 2016-17 New York Islanders and analyzing each player's performance in a down season that saw the team miss the playoffs by one point.
We will be offering two reviews per week that will take us right through to the beginning of training camp in September 2017. Of course, there are a couple of things to sort out prior, such as potential trades that could alter the look of this franchise going forward and oh, yeah, that pesky John Tavares extension.
Contract details via nhlnumbers.com and stats courtesy of hockeyreference.com.
86 - Nikolay Kulemin - Forward
6-1, 225 lbs
31 years old
Contract: $4.187.500m cap hit through 2017-18, Unrestricted free agent
Season: 72 GP, 12 G - 11 A - 23 Pts, 18 PIM, 74 Shots, 13:49 TOI, 46.7 Corsi
Career: 656 GP, 120 G - 151 A - 271 Pts, 173 PIM, 988 Shots, 15:20 TOI, 48.9 Corsi
Nikolay Kulemin came to the Islanders in the summer of 2014 as a free agent, along with Mikhail Grabovski. After scoring 61 goals over his first three seasons with the Maple Leafs, Kulemin came to New York having potted only 23 in his next 188 games prior to signing a massive four-year contract worth $16.75 million dollars.
After the acquisition of Jordan Eberle and signings of Calvin de Haan and Adam Pelech, the Islanders sure would love to have an extra $4.2 million dollars in cap space to acquire another scoring forward after Kulemin has largely failed to live up to such lofty paychecks.
Make no mistake, there is use for Kulemin's defensive acumen and the passionate effort that he gives every single shift, but it's impossible to quantify or justify the results on the offensive end -- 36 goals and 76 points in 235 games (82-game averages of 13 and 27).
Kulemin has seen his ice time reduced from 16-to-17 minutes per game in Toronto to 13-to-14 in his time with New York and has not been able to play with buddy Grabovski much, as the latter is still sidelined after suffering a concussion. His possession statistics have actually improved, from a 48.2 average with Toronto to 48.6 with the Islanders.
He seems best-suited for a fourth line role this coming season, with Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck, as his salary cap hit, age and pending free agency will likely put the brakes on any trade discussions.
IPB Grade: C- : As I mentioned, Kulemin is a good skater and penalty killer, plays every shift like it's his last and has proven to be extremely durable, playing 95.5 percent of all eligible games over his three years with the Islanders. But at that cap hit, the offensive numbers just need to be better. And they will not improve with another season of 13-to-14 minutes on the fourth unit. Take what you can from him this season defensively before he signs with his third team next summer.