Kulikov has been traded to the Sabres in exchange for Mark Pysk, reports Sportsnet. Draft picks were exchanged. Kulikov immediately helps stabilize the Buffalo blue line. The left-shot defender was the 14th pick in the 2009 NHL Draft. He put up 17 points in 74 games last season and is in the final year of a three-year, $13 million deal.
Kulikov sprained his shoulder in the second period of Sunday's Game 6 against the Islanders, but the injury was not considered serious, George Richards of the Miami Herald reports. Per the report, Kulikov wouldn't have played had there been a Game 7. The Russian defenseman was serviceable, having notched 16 assists -- including six power-play tallies -- and a plus-8 rating in the regular season. Kulikov broke his nose and dealt with a lower-body injury this campaign, causing him to miss eight games. Despite being in the NHL for seven years, he's yet to play out all 82 games of a regular-season schedule.
Kulikov had a great Game 2, potting a goal and assisting on another in a 3-1 win over the Islanders. Granted, the tally was of the empty-net variety, but a goal is a goal. Considered a far less appealing pick among Panthers' defensemen behind sophomore stud Aaron Ekblad -- and even veteran Brian Campbell -- Kulikov has impressed in the series' first two games, putting up three points and a plus-3 rating in just under 44 minutes of ice time.
Kulikov provided a pair of assists in Sunday's win over the Wild. It was the first multi-point effort of the season for Kulikov, who now has eight points (seven assists) on the year. The 25-year-old has been seeing his fair share of ice time, but he's yet to produce consistently enough to be relied upon for fantasy owners.
Kulikov surprised the Devils' Corey Schneider with a shot from the faceoff circle for his first goal of the season Thursday, adding a plus-3 rating in a 5-1 victory. The tally gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead at the time and thus served as the game-winner. That makes it the first game-winning goal for Kulikov since April 7, 2013 -- that's a 183-game span. The Russian blueliner's offensive ability has long been touted, but since opening his career with some promise, including a respectable 28 points in 58 games in 2011-12, he's seen his productivity fall off. At just 25 years old, there's still time for Kulikov to find his way, and it's worth noting that he's seen a much-increased role since returning from a lower-body injury seven games ago. He skated 23:15 in Thursday's game, leading all Panthers.
Last 7 Games
|3 Year Avg||76||4||15||19||-5||1||0||0||0||0||75.7|