A very well respected National Hockey League veteran may be calling it a career.
For weeks now we have been hearing rumors that 31 year old forward Nikolay Kulemin of the New York Islanders has been contemplating a potential return to the Kontinental Hockey League and it seems that those may no longer be mere rumors. According to a breaking news report from New York Islanders insider Arthur Staple of The Athletic, sources have informed him that Nikolay Kulemin is in fact headed back to the Kontinental Hockey League where he is expected to join Magnitogorsk, a team that he is very familiar with.
Kulemin started his career with Magnitogorsk prior to even the formation of the KHL as an official body and even played part of one season with them during a labor dispute between the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players' Association so it makes sense that he would join an organization that he has a long history with, and by extension is very familiar with.
There are now also reports that this may in fact mark the end of Kulemin's career in the National Hockey League with James Mirtle of The Athletic reporting that it is "likely" that his career in the NHL is over. If that is indeed the case it will be a terrible way to end what was otherwise a very successful career for a guy that was drafted midway through the second round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Kulemin's last season was a major disappointment, appearing in just 13 games before he suffered a devastating injury to his shoulder that ended his season prematurely. It's unclear at this time if the injury he suffered played any role in the decision he made to go back to Russia.
Kulemin made a name for himself as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs and they, along with the aforementioned Islanders, where the only teams that he played for during his career in the National Hockey League. Over that career he appeared in a total of 669 games and recorded 121 goals and 153 assists for a total of 274 points.
We wish him all the best on his future endeavors.
Photo Credit: Graham Hughes / The Canadian Press