Cox: Keeping Kulemin may prove pricey

The danger in evaluating the individual components of a ruined hockey season sometimes lies in assessing too much value to the few who have actually performed well.

The classic example, of course, is the heroic goaltender on the bad team. Just because a beleaguered masked man faces a zillion shots without cowering does not necessarily mean he’s a good goalie.

The challenge for Brian Burke as he analyzes his Maple Leafs, then, is to clearly identify those players who have actually achieved something more than just standing apart from the rabble.

In some cases, that evaluation is about whether those players should return next season.

In others, it’s about how much they should be paid if they do stick around.
Which brings us to the complex case of Nikolai Kulemin.

To most, the 23-year-old Russian winger is one of a handful of Leafs who have delivered something close to bang for the buck this season. For a paltry $850,000 (U.S.) per season, Kulemin has made clear and identifiable strides toward being a bona fide NHLer.

He came to Toronto advertised as Evgeni Malkin’s talented wingman from Magnitogorsk, but that was misleading. Instead, Kulemin, much more substantial at 220 pounds than most suspect, has started to make an impact as a grinding, physical forward more at home in tight spaces than open ice.

“He’s our most improved player, his work ethic is excellent and we’d like to see him stay a Leaf,” said Burke Wednesday from Boston after attending the AHL All-Star Game in snowy Portland, Maine, on Tuesday night.–cox-keeping-kulemin-may-prove-pricey

21 Responses to Cox: Keeping Kulemin may prove pricey

  1. leafy says:

    A big guy with good hands who can skate. Re sign him for sure. How about $2.5M?

  2. honestabe says:

    Wow, a little loose with the checkbook there Tex?

  3. leafy says:

    Why not, it's not my money. Haha!

  4. hockey_lover says:

    Says the guy who's GM paid $7.3M for Gomez ….

  5. JoelJoel says:

    I'd say if we can do it, sign him to a one year to 1.75-2 and see how he does.

    That way if he continues to improve you can look a ta 4 year deal in the 2-3 mil (like i said, if he continues to improve) the next season.

    And if he stays the same you can always do another 2-3 year deal worth less than 2.

    I doubt Burke will be handing out 3+ year contracts for more than 2 mill a season to players who barely stand out on a sh!t team.

  6. honestabe says:

    logic will get you nowhere in this discussion…. lol

  7. honestabe says:

    And look how successful that's been…..

    Here's a possible trade. 
    To Toronto:
    All the molson Ex you can drink

    To Montreal:
    Burke's little buddy.

  8. hockey_lover says:

    LOL .. man, that was fcuking funny.

    All the ex you can drink. hehheh.

    Nice work sir, nice work.


  9. mojo19 says:

    Name a Leafs forward who backchecks better than Kulemin and breaks up more plays? You can't do it.

    Kulemin has a lethal shot (wish he'd use it more), great speed, and always finishes his check. He's even good for the odd huge hit.

    I would give him a Ken Holland style deal, and maybe within 2-3 years he'll be a great bargain. 5 years, $12.5 million, which equals $2.5 million per season cap hit. Pay him $2, $2, $2.5, $3, $3 million in his 5 years.

    I really feel like this guy could be a high end 2-way player.

  10. TheLeafNation91 says:


  11. mojo19 says:


    I look at Detroits contract for Filppula. Different type of player, but similar age and Detroit got him on a 5 year deal, this is the 2nd year which his cap hit is at $3 million, and last year it was a little high, this year it looks almost about right and if he continues to improve, by next year it will be a very good contract, and possibly a great bargain in the final two years of the deal when Valteri should be in his prime. Kulemin is 23, so in the last two years of a 5 year deal he'll be 27, 28, and could be a great bargain at $2.5 million.

    You gotta think long term sometimes.

  12. the_word says:

    Molson? Why not just drink out of a toilet?

  13. reinjosh says:

    I don't know man
    Burke's little buddy can be a better GM than any one Montreal gives up
    funny trade

  14. honestabe says:

    marketing man, marketing.

  15. reinjosh says:

    although Moslon Ex isn't half bad.
    could make up for the trade lol

  16. Kramer says:

    I started writing the script for my new hockey movie. Got the page numbers done.

  17. mojo19 says:

    Is Wade Belak still gonna be the hero?

  18. dizon says:

    who cares, he's the hero in all of our lives

  19. dizon says:

    who cares, he's the hero in all of our lives

  20. Kramer says:

    Yup Wade Belak and Colton Orr will be front and center.

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