Whatever was left of Toronto’s playoff chances took a major hit on Thursday as the club announced forward Nikolai Kulemin will miss the next three weeks with a broken finger. While the club is unsure if Kulemin’s injury will take the full length of time to heal, missing three weeks would essentially end his season — he’d be back in time for Toronto’s second-to-last game on Apr. 5.
It’s an unfortunate ending to what’s been an unfortunate season for the 25-year-old. He’s posted 7G-21A-28PTS in 70 games — well off his pace from last year, when he scored 30 goals in 82 games. In doing so, Kulemin became the first Russian-born Leaf to score 30 in a season since Alexander Mogilny (33 in 2002-03) and just the fourth Leaf to score 30 or more since 1999-2000 (Phil Kessel, Mats Sundin and Mogilny were the others.)
The injury also keeps Kulemin from padding his stats heading into restricted free agency this summer. It’ll be interesting to see how Leafs GM Brian Burke values Kulemin, who struggled in the final year of a deal that paid $2.35 million annually.