Leafs’ Kulemin could test free agent market
Nikolai Kulemin began his National Hockey League career with the Toronto Maple Leafs back in 2008, but his time there could be coming to an end.
Kulemin’s current contract of two years at $5.6 million and a $2.8 million cap hit is set to expire, which would make him an unrestricted free agent.
Nikolai Kulemin is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and agent Gary Greenstin tells Sportsnet that he plans to make full use of the interview window, which opens Wednesday, to start looking for a new home for his client. Discussions with the Leafs on a new contract have been limited, according to Greenstin, who noted that there is still some time for talks to pick up with Toronto.
However, this is a situation where there no longer seems to be a fit between player and team. The issue? Role, more than contract.
That would be in keeping with Greenstin’s comments toward the end of April, saying his client was not happy with his role, including an apparent lack of power play time.
In fact, he played just 4:46 on the power play throughout the entire season, compared to 217:55 in those same situations during the 2010-11 season, when he contributed 13 points with the man advantage.
Kulemin is only three years removed from a career-best 30-goal season with the Leafs, however his scoring totals have dropped dramatically in recent years.
He hasn’t hit double digits in goals in a season since 2010-11, scoring only nine goals last year and seven in each of the previous two seasons.
There was a report at the end of January that the Leafs were taking calls from teams perhaps interested in Kulemin, who turns 28 years of age next month.
Born in Russia, Greenstin made it clear to the Toronto Sun earlier this spring his client is set on playing in the NHL next season instead of going to the KHL.