Nov 22, 2013; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Florida Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov (7) and Calgary Flames center Blair Jones (19) fight for position in front of Florida Panthers goalie Tim Thomas (34) during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Florida Panthers Morning Nips: Nearing A Kulikov Deal?

Last night the Florida Panthers allowed 45 shots and four goals. They took seven penalties and had a number costly defensive zone turnovers. Usually this is the point where we talk about how bad Dmitry Kulikov is, except we can’t this time because Kulikov did not play, he was benched last night.

Usually you could look at the final score of last night’s game, see all the shots the Panthers allowed and see all the penalties they took and assume Kulikov was heavily involved in the sh*tshow but we can’t do that this time and maybe there is a lesson in that somewhere.

Kulikov’s replacement in the lineup, Mike Mottau, played just 4:34 last night. He took two penalties and finished the game at -1. Is there a chance that we could experience a “you don’t know what you have until its gone” type situation with Kulikov? I mean, yes he has made some horrible mistakes, and yes he has not made the improvements we have been hoping to see this season, but at least when he is in the lineup the coach is confident enough to play him. The Panthers defense did not look any better with Kulikov out of the lineup, they only looked more exhausted and that was because they were essentially playing with five guys the entire night.

Kulikov should be back in the lineup on Thursday and we can all get back to blaming him for all the Panthers mishaps and everything will be right in the universe but….I have a feeling that Dmitry Kulikov will not be around for long.

The rumors have been swirling around Kulikov all season. Actually they have been swirling for longer than that. Elliotte Friedman reported yesterday that the Panthers and the Leafs were very close to making a deal involving Kulikov last season but one of the teams backed down. Since then, the rumors involving Florida’s young Russian defenseman have been pretty consistent. Last night, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch had this to say about the Kulikov benching:

He followed that up with:

All signs are pointing to a Kulikov deal being somewhere on the near horizon. I found it interesting to hear Kulikov’s reaction to his being benched yesterday. He said, “I don’t think I was playing bad enough to get thrown out of the lineup, but it’s the coach’s decision. Yeah, so I was surprised.”

That vaguely insubordinate, indignant response to the benching mirrors the tone Kris Versteeg had when he was benched for poor play. Its no surprise that Versteeg was shipped out shortly after that incident and it would not surprise me if the same thing happens with Kulikov.

What do you think about a Kulikov trade? Are you fed up with him? What do you think the Panthers will get in return? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and follow The Rat Trick on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest.


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