From the Toronto Sun :
"Brian Burke isn’t kidding when he says there is no progress in a new contract for restricted free agent winger Nikolai Kulemin. Talks are at a standstill.
'What he is asking for is not what we are prepared to pay,' the Leafs general manager said Thursday, when asked why he and Kulemin’s agent, Gary Greenstin, keep giving identical terse quotes on the subject. 'I think his agent is a good guy. But we will grind on and see what happens.'
There are rumours Kulemin is seeking $3 million US or higher after 36 points in 78 games, though the 23-year-old was one of the team’s most improved players."
Burke did mention that they would “grind on,” so I guess it isn’t all bad.
If Kulemin is actually asking for $3 million per season, I don’t see how the Leafs can sign him. He simply isn’t worth the cash.
Burke mentioned last month in his end of season presser that if the figures being thrown around by the KHL for Kulemin’s services were indeed true, he won’t be a Leaf anymore. It seems like that scenario is actually coming to fruition.
In all honesty I’m not sure how the Leafs can really go above $2.2-2.5 for Kulemin. His 36 points are nothing to write home about, but Kulemin’s defensive play is likely where he and his agent are making the case for more dollars.
If there is more money coming from the KHL, the Leafs won’t be able to trade Kulemin to another NHL club, leaving them with nothing.
Outside of Kaberle, Nik Kulemin is one of the only other players the Leafs can get any return for whatsoever. Even if it’s simply a mid-round draft pick, at least it’s something; but to lose him for nothing would be terrible for Burke and the Leafs.
Let’s hope something is worked out, but at the right price. I don’t think Burke will let players push him around for cash, but he’s definitely in a weird spot with Kulemin right now.