Broken finger likely ends Kulemin's season
Mike Zeisberger, QMI Agency
|Leafs Nikolai Kulemin screens goalie Jonas Gustavsson during practice last month. (DAVE ABEL/QMI Agency)
Nikolai Kulemin's season likely has ended because of a broken finger.
But, in all honesty, did it ever really get started?
And, for that matter, has he played his final game as a Maple Leaf?
In a season full of letdowns and disappointments for the Maple Leafs, Kulemin's lack of production must be considered among the most prominent.
This was a guy who scored 30 goals a season ago, who ended up with 57 points and, most importantly, was considered to be a key cog in Toronto's plans heading into 2011-12.
But Kulemin never could get into a groove once the season started, going large chunks of the the season without being able to find the back of the net. In 70 games this season, he managed to score just seven goals and added 21 assists for just 28 points, clearly less than was expected of him.
Prior to being relieved of his duties in Toronto by general manager Brian Burke, former Leafs coach Ron Wilson gave Kulemin every opportunity to have success, keeping him on a unit with Clarke MacArthur and Mikhail Grabovski for as long as he could before finally being forced to drop him to a lower line due to a lack of production.
According to the Leafs, Kulemin will be sidelined for at least three weeks, meaning even if he does return, it would be for only the final game or so of the regular season.
Kulemin is in the final season of a two-year deal that has a cap hit of $2.35 million US in 2011-12. If he, in fact, can not return from the injury, will the 5-2 loss in Florida on Tuesday night end up being the young Russian's last appearance in blue and white?
In the end, only Burke will know for sure.