Nikolay Kulemin, 29, Left Wing
Contract: Signed through 2017-18, $4.188 million cap hit, $4.250 million salary - eligible for unrestricted free agency
Season stats: 81 GP - 9 G - 13 A - 22 points - 92 shots - 14:04 ATOI - 46.8 CF Percentage
Career stats: 584 GP - 108 G - 140 A - 248 points - 914 shots - 15:32 ATOI - 49.1 CF Percentage
Brian Erni: It's strange, because what I wrote for Mikhail Grabovski applies very well to his good friend Kulemin. The reason why most stat head Islanders fans were okay with the overpays of these two were because they were so strong possession-wise. Both players delivered in 2014-15 (Kulemin's Corsi For Percentage was 52.1 that season), and both underachieved in 15-16. However, Kulemin is a bit of a stranger case than Grabbo.
Unlike Grabovski, Kulemin stayed healthy for the duration of this past season, it's just that the production wasn't there. That's mostly because Kulemin took far fewer shot attempts this season (161 compared to 212 a year ago). Some of that had to do with his placement in the lineup. There were far fewer minutes for Kulemin on the top line this year, after all. But that doesn't quite excuse the passiveness.
Just how passive was he? At even strength, Kulemin had an Individual Corsi of 145 and an Individual Fenwick of 109. To put that in perspective, Shane Prince (an analytic favorite) had marks of 149 and 110 respectively in those categories in 19 fewer games this season. That all led to a 0.85 points per 60 mark, which was the fourth-worst on the team (third if you don't count Steve Bernier).
Of the four penalty killers, Kulemin did play the second-most shorthanded minutes behind Casey Cizikas. And since the penalty kill was a top-five unit this season, it's easy to find a silver lining in Kulemin's year. The lack of offensive output is certainly softened by how effective he is down a man.
But statistically, Kulemin's Corsi and Fenwick were the worst on the kill among the forwards. So that's something to look out for, especially if the Isles lose Frans Nielsen, who is one of their most effective penalty killers.
Add it all up and you don't get a heck of a lot of production for Kulemin's significant cap hit. If free agency forces him to take a bigger role both in the offense and on special teams, he's going to need to be better than he was in 15-16.