Reading the Tea Leafs: Nikolai Kulemin

Following on the success of two other dormant series PPP and I have decided that in order to fill the gap in NHL news that we'll take a look at each of the current Leafs, possible Leafs on the Marlies, janitors, marketing interns and prospects. We'll recap their performance last year, what we can expect from them, reveal their underwear size and how they can win our hearts (hint: signing the contract was a good first step...unless your name is Bryan McCabe Ian White). We have no idea how long of a series this will end up being or how consistent it will be but with two of us expect it to only be half as half-assed and twice as timely, offer void in Michigan.

Either Kulemin is awesome or the RSL really sucks.

Contract Status (according to NHL Numbers)
Three year rookie contract at rookie maximum, $875,000 with performance incentives it could balloon to almost $1.5M this season.

Age (as of October 1, 2008)
22 - July 14, 1986

NHL Seasons
Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Run of the Mill Biographical Information

Former Leaf he'd have to play like in order to be christened a deity
If Kulemin can play like Antropov, we'll be in business.

Biggest Question Marks
Can Kulemin play his game in the NHL? Can he throw big hits and score big goals?

Player Summary
Kulemin distinguished himself playing for Metallurg Magnitogorsk, and at the 06 WC playing on the "Prime Line" between Ovechkin and Malkin. According to Hockeysfuture, he wasn't just tagging along.

More so, he wasn’t expected to just be a filler; he got to join the team’s prime line that featured Alexander Ovechkin and Malkin. Once again he didn’t let his team down. Kulemin was doing the job of battling for the puck along the boards, clearing up the space for his linemates and bolstering his line’s defensive unit comprised of offensive defenseman Kirill Koltsov (VAN) and Vitali Atyuushov. He was a perfect fit because of his team-first attitude and his ability to beat the zone coverage that the opposition often used against Malkin & Co.

Projected 2008-2009 role/team
Kulemin didn't play in the rookie tournament, I'd say it's a safe bet he has a roster spot waiting with the big club. Everything I've read says that Kulemin is an incredible player, let's hope that translates to the NHL.

I could see him either on a line with fast guys like Blake and Grabovski, or along Poni and Antropov on a first line. Who knows? The kid is a total question mark, but I've got a good feeling.

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