Nikolai Kulemin Scouting Report by Gus Katsaros and Ryan Dadoun
After a breakout 2010-11 with a 30-goal, 57-point effort, the Magnitogorsk, USSR native followed up with the worst offensive showing of his still-young NHL career, tallying just seven goals in 70 games in 2011-12. He endured goal scoring droughts spanning 23 and 16 contests over the course of the campaign. The 26-year-old only logged about five minutes of playing time with the man advantage from Feb. 14 until a broken finger ended his season on March 13. The fact that Kuleminâ€™s power-play ice time dropped significantly last season didnâ€™t do him any favours, but he also experienced a massive drop in production during even-strength situations. Kulemin went from scoring 24 even-strength goals in 2010-11 to just six last season. The second round pick (44th overall) in 2006 also fired a career-low 107 shots on goal, dropping his shooting percentage to just 6.5%, down from a stunning 17.3% during his 30-goal campaign. At his best, Kulemin shows great anticipation and an all-around high hockey IQ and defensive wisdom beyond his years. Heâ€™s an efficient skater with good crossovers and edges, and uses his agility to his advantage. He works well in traffic and using his size to maintain possession of and protect the puck. Defensively sound, he uses solid positioning to deal with an adversary off the rush, willing to throw his body around without angering the refs while breaking up scoring chances. He might end up serving as a role player due in part to the addition of James van Riemsdyk on the left wing.
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