New York Islanders forward Nikolay Kulemin will miss six months of action after undergoing surgery, the team announced.
The 31-year-old was pasted by Edmonton Oilers forward Eric Gryba in a game on November 7 and went hard into the boards before attending to the locker room. Kulemin subsequently had surgery on his “upper body” and it was a success, but it’s still hard news to take if you’re an Islanders fan.
Now, Kulemin is in the final year of a four-year contract and will be an unrestricted free agent come this summer. His value in the marketplace will doubtless be affected by this injury and subsequent recovery, as his prospects for landing a new deal in Long Island or elsewhere will be impacted by his lack of recent play.
Also, it’s likely that health questions will linger. The only possible solutions are a quick recovery or a significant post-season run for the Islanders.
Make no mistake about it, Kulemin isn’t exactly known for lighting the lamp. He’s a bottom six dude and isn’t going to carry a lot of fantasy impact, but his role on the penalty kill is notable.
In 13 games this season, he has three points – a goal and two assists. He had a two-point game against the Vegas Golden Knights on October 30.
In 669 career games with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Islanders, Kulemin has 121 goals and 153 assists for a total of 274 points. His best season to date was with Toronto in 2010-2011, when he scored 30 goals and added 27 assists for 57 points in 82 games.
But 30 points is the norm for Kulemin, which means New York should have little difficulty weathering the storm.
Still, it’s an interesting lesson for how injuries can impact a career going forward. Kulemin was never a top-shelf draw, but he’s probably finished with the Islanders and may have difficulty getting a well-paying gig elsewhere when the dust settles.