Penalty killing is important in the NHL. New York Islanders winger Nikolay Kulemin specializes in killing penalties. The Magnitogorsk, Russia native was drafted 44th overall (second round) in the 2006 NHL draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. But, he stayed with the KHL\’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk for an extra season. When he finally went to the Leafs, Kulemin became good friends with teammate Mikhail Grabovski, who was his center. In 6 years with Toronto, Kulemin scored 195 points (84 goals and 111 assists) in 421 games. Before the 2014-15 season, Kulemin signed a 4 year, $16.75 million deal with the Islanders. On the same day, the Isles signed Grabovski to a 4 year, $20 million deal. In three seasons since, Kulemin has 76 points (36 goals and 40 assists) in 235 games.
At his teammate Anders Lee\’s Kan Jam event, I was able to catch up with Nikolai. Here are the questions I asked him.
Me: \”How did the team change from December to March?\”
Kulemin: \”We didn\’t play very good during the [beginning] of the year. We had a couple of bad games at the start. We bounced back, and everybody played hard. We found a way to get back on track.\”
M: \”You\’ve replaced Matt Martin on the infamous 4th line. What\’s it like to go from a scoring line to a checking line?\”
K: \”We don\’t really have a checking line. All lines can score. It doesn\’t matter who I\’m playing with.\”
M: \”What do you think of this event Anders Lee is running?\”
K: \”It\’s a great experience. It\’s good to give back, and do fundraising for the kids that get sick. It\’s a hard disease. Everyone likes to support the kids.\”