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Nikolai Kulemin- Part of the future?

At 23, Nikolai Kulemin doesn’t have overwhelming offensive stats just yet but shows signs of becoming a vital part of the Leaf future.

Perhaps I’m too optimistic about what I’m seeing, but last night’s game against the Panthers was another instance where he did things that stood out—including his work in drawing a Florida penalty (while killing a penalty) and setting up Ponikarovsky’s second-period goal. He was on the ice in the final seconds when the Leafs were working to preserve their 3-2 lead.

I’ve written recently about how different a team the Leafs may be, especially up front, over the next two to three years.

For me, the young second-round draft choice is a player management will use as a building block. You can see his confidence growing. I saw this happen with Lanny McDonald in his third season in 1975-‘76, when everything started to come together for him. I’m not comparing Kulemin with McDonald, a Hall-of-Famer. Kulemin is only in his second NHL season, but many nights is showing the different parts of his game that can make him a valuable guy going forward.

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