Pending UFA Nikolai Kulemin is the longest-serving player on the Leafs roster, but it sure sounds like things will need to change if that’s to continue.
“I believe he can get 20 to 22 goals, but he needs to have different role,” Kulemin’s agent, Gary Greenstin, told the National Post. “You just put him on penalty killing. Not even a chance to play power play.
“Of course he’s not happy with his role. I’m not happy.”
Greenstin’s comments carry additional weight considering he also reps Mikhail Grabovski, the ex-Leaf that was bought out last summer before blasting his role under head coach Randy Carlyle. From TSN:
“I play in the [expletive] Russian KHL, I make lots of [expletive] points and what’s going to happen? He make me [expletive] play on the fourth line and he put me in the playoffs on the fourth line and third line again,” Grabovski spewed.
“Yeah, I don’t score goals. I need to work more about that. I know that. But if you feel support from your coach [you’ll find success]. I don’t feel any support from this [expletive] idiot.”
As for Kulemin… the 27-year-old Russian just wrapped his sixth season with Toronto. He had a career year in 2010-11, scoring 30 goals and 57 points while appearing in all 82 games, and was rewarded with a two-year, $5.6 million extension in July 2012.
This year he scored just nine goal and 20 points in 70 games while averaging over 16 minutes a night and, in early April, Greenstin went public saying his client wants to remain in the NHL next season, rather than head to the KHL.
The KHL subject was broached, presumably, because of Kulemin’s strong ties to Metallurg Magnitogorsk — he spent considerable time there during the lockout, notching 38 points in 34 games while finishing third on the team in scoring.