The Next Ovechkin
Nikolai Kulemin, Metallurg Magnitogorsk
By now there's been plenty of time for the news to get around of yesterday's signing by the Toronto Maple Leafs of star Russian forward Nikolai Kulemin.
Kulemin, still not yet 21, was drafted by Toronto in 2006 and then went on to score 37 goals for RSL champs Metallurg Magnitogorsk during the '06-'07 season, second in the league only to Danis Zaripov's (Ak Bars Kazan) 42 goals.
The good news for Metallurg fans is that Kulemin, who re-signed with Magnitogorsk back in April, will remain in Russia "to continue his development" after he reportedly attends Leafs training camp in the fall.
Pre-season preparations for most Russian Super League teams generally begin with a few international tournaments in July, with the regular season starting in early September.
While maybe not yet as flashy as an Ilya Kovalchuk or Alexander Ovechkin-- one early scouting report predicts that Kulemin won't be a first-line forward in the NHL and will be just a 20-goal scorer, nothing more-- Kulemin has impressed many with his all-around skills (forechecking, moving the puck ahead to teammates, keeping track of defensive responsibilities), while still showing plenty of offensive flair, as anyone who's watched all of the Kulemin highlight videos that have been circulating for the last month or two on YouTube can attest to.
I'm going to post a few of the best of those videos here; you can also go to Maestrosky's YouTube channel, which is where most of the others are posted.
Goal #27, March 6th '07 vs. Metallurg Novokuznetsk
Kulemin stick-handles past a defensman and scores.
Semi-finals against Avangard Omsk, March '07
In a totally sick move, Kulemin gets a rebound and, with his back to the net, spins around to shoot between a defenders legs and scores.
Semi-finals Game One against Avangard Omsk, March 29th '07
Kulemin jukes his way past a defender along the boards, then gets pulled down when the same defender comes back to hook him later, and still scores.
Goal #29, semi-finals against Sibir, March 20th '07
I've posted this one before, from my own YouTube channel; Kulemin splits two defenders and scores while falling down.
One last video, showing Kulemin can also handle the dirty work:
A booming check by Kulemin that levels Alexander Kharitonov of Dynamo Moscow, sending two players flying.
The last clip has sound-- "Ni-KOL-ee COOL-you-min!"