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Wednesday, July 02, 2014

The Skinny on the New Guys

The Isles made the biggest splash on Day 2 of Free Agent Frenzy, signing Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin to nearly-matching 4 year contracts.  (Published reports say Kulemin's deal is for 16.75MM while Grabovski's deal is for 20MM)

Here's some Skinny on the two newest Islanders:

Mikhail Grabovski, who wears the year of his birth (84) will be moving to his 3rd team in 3 years. After signing "Grabbo" to a long term contract before the lockout-shortened season, the Leafs then bought him out (a move that was widely criticized).  Grabovski then spent last season with the Capitals before become an unrestricted free agent. Grabovski has recorded 107-145-252 in 425 NHL games; his best season came in 2010-11, when he went 29-29-58 for the Leafs, as a linemate of Nikolai Kulemin.

The analytics guys love Grabovski; his career 5-on-5 Corsi is 52.6%; he led all NHL Capitals forwards (minimum 50 games) in Corsi-for % this past season.  He went 13-22-35 in 58 games for the Caps last season -- but he saw little time on the PP (1:26 per game) with Washington.  While he was born in East Germany, Grabovski is from Belarus and has put up some big numbers for his country in the world championships; this past year in his home country he went 4-4-8, +4 in six games, including three GW goals.

Face-offs are a big part of Grabovski's game; he won 54% last season (no Islander won more than he lost).

Nikolai Kulemin will turn 28 later this month.  Kulemin joins the Isles after spending his entire NHL career with the Leafs. He has gone 84-111-195 in 425 games.  However Kulemin went 61-63-124 in his first three seasons but is only 23-48-71 in 188 games over the last three seasons.
Kulemin, who scored 30 goals in 2010-11 also has significant international experience (for Russia); he scored 7 pts in 10 games for Russia in the 2014 Worlds, and also played for the team in the 2014 Olympics (he was named as a back-up for Russia's 2010 team as well, but did not play).   Kulemin will need a new number; his #41 is already taken by Jaroslav Halak.

Both Grabovski and Kulemin are represented by Moscow-educated Gary Greenstin. Greenstin is also the agent for Pavel Datsyuk.

Today's additions brings the total to six players that were not with the Isles at the end of last season that have one-way contracts for the coming campaign.
Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since January 21, 1982. Visit my blog: NYISkinny.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

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