The New Jersey Devils have announced they have signed free-agent defenceman Dmitry Kulikov to a one-year deal worth $1.15 million.
#NEWS: We have signed defenseman Dmitry Kulikov to a one-year contract.
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) October 22, 2020
The Devils Sign Dmitry Kulikov
Kulikov’s been active in the NHL during the past 11 seasons but hasn’t exactly been a stellar first-round pick. Kulikov, 29, began his career with the Florida Panthers where he spent seven seasons. In 2016, the Buffalo Sabres acquired Kulikov and he played 47 games there before signing with the Winnipeg Jets the following off-on a three-year contract worth $12.99 million. Kulikov played out his contract in Winnipeg, scoring five goals and adding 22 assists in 170 games.
In total, Kulikov has 35 goals and 135 points in 670 career NHL games. Kulikov never played more than 62 games in a season with the Jets, and when he was in the lineup he averaged 17:29 of ice per game which is by far his lowest average between his three NHL teams. In 51 games last season, Kulikov posted his highest Corsi For at 50.9. Given his three past teams, Kulikov’s only played in 24 postseason games in which he has one goal and six assists.
What This Means for the Future
At this point in Kulikov’s career, the Devils are getting a bottom-pair defenceman who has had some issues staying healthy. Kulikov is more of a stay-at-home defenceman, reaching 20 points just three times in 11 seasons. Kulikov spent a fair amount of time as Dustin Byfuglinen’s partner in Winnipeg, which could have added some responsibility on the defensive aspect of his game.
Ever since Kulikov left Florida it seems as if his career’s gone downhill. A fresh start could re-rejuvenate Kulikov, who is just turning 30. At best he could start to log around 20 minutes per game again. But if things keep going south for the Russian defenceman, he could quickly become a seventh defenceman with his NHL days numbered. With over 1,000 hits and 900 blocked shots, for the time being, Kulikov should continue to serve as a hard-working body on the Devils back end.