Since I read the Maple Leafs 23-man roster for their upcoming Rookie Tournament Camp that takes place in Kitchener early September, something has been bugging me.
Although there are players like Tlusty and Stralman who have suited up with the big club attending the Camp, as well as a number of Marlie incumbents, The highly touted Nikolai Kulemin's name does not appear on the list.
Perhaps there is nothing to be read into this, but there have been reports of him looking for residence here in Toronto this summer so I don't believe he is still in Russia.
It could very well be that the Leafs have such a high opinion of him from sessions that have already transpired, they are giving him a pass. Look for him to be part of the main camp and expect to see him suiting up with big team this year perhaps right from day one.
Kulemin most likely would have been here last year if not for the glut of handcuffing contracts that were in place. Coming to North America for last season had been discussed. However, it was decided that it would be better for him to continue his development in the RSL playing top minutes and in various situations for Metalurg Magnitogorsk.
I have been watching Kulemin develop since he became Leaf property in the 2006 draft, and from what I have seen and read (which includes some fantastic endorsements), I think given time he could become an impact player for Leafs.