Considering we were hearing word of $3 million + demands from Nik Kulemin’s camp, this is pleasantly surprising. It gives Kulemin a deserved $800k raise and a couple of years to prove he deserves a bigger, long-term extension, and Brian Burke the chance to see if the 24-year-old’s late season production wasn’t just the result of a default increase in playing time. Come two off-seasons from now, when both sides re-evaluate where they stand, the Leafs will still own Kulemin’s rights as an RFA. There is little doubt the Leafs are paying the extra cash for potential, but it’s certainly worth it given Kulemin’s 24 and was Leafsâ€™ best forward offensively and defensively on several nights during the back half of the ’09-10 schedule. Patience has paid off for Burke and Nonis with a reasonable contract for the next two seasons. At the very least Kulemin will provide a responsible two-way presence with some offensive upside on the second or third line. Beyond that we’ll have to see where he can go in terms of production.
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