Dmitry Kulikov is still a Florida Panther. Despite all the trade talk and the ever present rumors, the 23-year-old Russian is still ‘seeing red’ (‘seeing red’ being an appropriate estimation of what the experience of playing for the Panthers must be like.)
Although Kulikov is still suiting up in the Panther red every night, that does not mean the trade rumors will go away anytime soon. Those rumors are going to follow Kulikov indefinitely like a raincloud following Eeyore. This is all good news for me; ‘Mr. Florida-Panthers-Hockey-Blogger’, because nothing sells quite like a good trade rumor. We hockey bloggers pray for trade rumors like a Newsie prays for a good assassination, an earthquake or a war.
So with that in mind, lets take a look at the latest involving Kulikov:
On Tuesday the Panthers scratched Kulikov from the lineup, ostensibly because of his recent turnover-happy play. The move made sense as Kulikov was coming off a rough stretch of games prior to his benching but that did not stop people from speculating that a move was on the way. Before Florida’s Tuesday game against the Senators, Bruce Garrioch tweeted that the benching was the result of the Panthers stepping up their efforts to trade Kulikov.
Panthers GM Dale Tallon denied the reports that a potential trade was the reason that Kulikov was benched on Tuesday. Tallon told George Richards of the Miami Herald, “No, we sat him because of his play, [Kulikov] needed a little refresher. I’ve liked the way he’s played since.”
Now it is being reported that the Panthers came close to make a deal with the Colorado Avalanche but the deal fell through
. In his Sunday column, Garrioch speculated that the trade may have fallen through because the Avalanche, and teams around the league are afraid
that Kulikov will return to the KHL after this season.
Kulikov’s current contract comes to an end this off-season after which he becomes a restricted free agent. Apparently Kulikov does not love
life in the NHL (although maybe that’s because he has played for the Panthers his entire career) which has fueled the rumors that he may jump ship to accept a big offer from the KHL.
This newest development, ‘Kulikov returning to the KHL’ makes things a lot tougher for Tallon, who may be feeling some heat
from new owner Vincent Viola. The biggest selling point for Tallon in trying to trade Kulikov is that Kulikov is only 23 years old and already has five seasons of NHL experience under his belt. Tallon needs to sell a potential trade partner on Kulikov’s vast potential moving forward. All that goes out the window if Kulikov is just going to leave for the KHL next season.
So yes, for now Dmitry Kulikov is still a Florida Panther and the rumors regarding his trade are still floating around the ether of the BB&T Center. As they say, where there is smoke, there is fire and right now there is more smoke than a college freshman’s dorm room so you would be well advised to keep an eye out as a trade could materialize any day now.
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