Drafted 14th overall by Florida in 2009, Kulikov has been in the NHL from the very beginning but has dealt with some growing pains and trade rumors. But those should be put to rest as the Panthers have signed him to a three-year deal. The contract is worth $13 million, according to TSN.
That's a nice pay raise for Kulikov, who was making $2.5 million against the salary cap last season. It's a pretty big sign of what the Panthers are expecting from Kulikov with another year under his belt.
The Russian has already shown some big steps in his game, finishing 2013-14 with a career-high eight goals and 11 assists while averaging 21:42 of ice time with 66 PIM. Still, at the new salary, the Panthers are clearly expecting one more step in his game and envision Kulikov being a mainstay in their top four on defense for years. He just needs to find the consistency and discipline to make it happen.
This new deal will take him through his eighth NHL season, meaning he'll be an unrestricted free agent at its conclusion.
With Kulikov under contract following a recent deal with Brandon Pirri, the only Panther remaining unsigned is Jimmy Hayes, who is scheduled for arbitration should it get that far.