According to Darren Dreger, the Leafs have signed Kulemin to a new two year deal worth $2.8 million per season.
After going ice cold for the 2011-12 campaign, Kulemin still managed to get a raise from his expiring $2.35 million dollar hit over the last two years.
However, if you look at his entire body of work over the past two seasons, which included a break out offensively in 2010-11, it’s tough to argue this contract. The cap hit is peanuts, and Kulemin’s a legit NHLer who’s responsible on both sides of the puck for the most part. I like it.
Kulemin, as we all know, scored 30 goals two years ago and just seven last season as his shooting percentage took a wicked tumble. Possible reasons why have been explained on this blog before.
Kulemin re-signs. Related posts:
- Assessing Nikolai Kulemin, Part I – Offence
- Assessing Nikolai Kulemin, Par II – Defence
- An introduction to regression
The Cliff’s Notes is that Kulemin is a positive play driver on the wing with Mikhail Grabovski. He can still be a force offensively, but probably not as much as we’d like. His powerplay time took a tumble last year and that ought to continue. Without the powerplay minutes, he can’t be expected to break 20 goals without some real cozy percentages.
But that’s still pretty good for a 2nd-3rd line hybrid player, and at his price.
A lot of people will look at the cap hit, which increases from $2.35M to $2.8M as a fairly modest raise. The percentage of the salary cap that Kulemin is worth is almost identical to what it was before. Using @draglikepull‘s cap inflator calculator:
The raise in "hockey dollars" is only about $30K, something you can expect both sides at the negotiating table kept in perspective. Kulemin costs the Leafs just as much as he did before. He was a bargain 30-goal scorer one year and an overpaid 7-goal scorer the next, so somewhere in that middle is a hockey player worth his contract.
At 26, the potential to have a breakout season offensively is probably past, but he’ll be a meaningful contributor in Toronto for the next two years.