So back to the situation regarding Nik Kulemin.
1.47 million and pending Restricted Free Agency coming up this summer. Kulemin will look for a raise, and to be honest, I’m not sure if the Leafs want to pay him.
Kulemin and his agent will look for a solid raise to about 2.5-3.0 million and some years to go along with it.
If Burke wants to walk away from that, he’ll trade his rights to whoever comes up with a decent package for the Russian.
What teams would want Kulie? I’m not sure. But a better question is, who wouldn’t?
Signing Kulemin for three million dollars per year is economical for a top six forward, who may or may not, turn out to score plenty of points. It’s worth the risk really. Regardless, his play on the defensive side of the puck is enough to keep him in the lineup all season.
Want to know where the three million dollars is that Burke is looking for to cut Kulemin a cheque? Go see Mikhail Grabovski. He has most of it at least (2.9 per until 2013)
So you can see where the money for Kulemin may not be that easy to come up with, yet.
Solution? You guessed it. Find some team to take Mikhail Grabovski’s contract off our hands. Not that easy, but not outside the realm of possibility either.
Right now with Ron Wilson and his somewhat loud mouth claiming that he expects Nazem Kadri to crack the Leafs roster next season, Grabovski’s spot on the team is in question.
Actually it’s quite answerable; the third line if he was to stick around.
But do the Leafs really want to pay a third line center with no physical upside 2.9 million dollars a year and let Kulemin walk? They may have to, but something tells me that most fans wouldn’t agree with that move.
Don’t fret however, Dave Nonis and Burke have already expressed that any overhauling will come from trading this off-season. It’s quite likely that we won’t even be remembering this conversation when Kulemin, Grabovski and Tomas Kaberle are all wearing different sweaters next season.
A lot of people ask me — what’s your Leafs lineup for next season? And usually I can’t answer because that’s way too tough to call. But I will tell you that I don’t see Grabovski as a part of it, so maybe signing Kulemin won’t be so hard after all.
So Burke has two things to think about
1) Find a team to take Mikhail Grabovski
This can go down. 2.9 million dollars for a second line center on a small market club isn’t that big of a deal.
The Leafs however, are anything but small market so there’s no reason for them not to have an amazing top six.
They can spend to the cap, so go ahead and do it I say. Let Grabbo go for a legit bottom six and here we go.
2) Sign Kulemin with the cash saved
This might be harder than originally thought.
Kulemin is young, can’t really speak a lick of English and will have deals coming from the KHL without a doubt.
I think Burke will get it done, but it definitely isn’t any sure thing.
Of course, Burke could always ask Grabbo to split some of his cash with Kulemin, but I’m not sure if that would work out so great.
And now you can follow on Twitter at twitter.com/maplestirup