Everyone has heard by now that talk between Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke and Nikolai Kulemin have stalled.
What puzzles me is why this is such big news?
Obviously with the Leafs not in the playoffs I suppose anything to do with the team is bound to be big news, I know I often find myself 'jonesing' for some "Buds talk."
Young Kulemin and his agent are asking for around three million a season and Burke has reportedly not offered nearly that much.
Burke said in an interview yesterday on AM 640 that the two sides hadn't exchanged proposals in more than two weeks.
The Maple Leafs GM said "While they can say: ‘he was on your first line last year,' there is no one who would say Kulemin is a first line left winger. He's a first line left winger by default because we did not have a very good team. I'm not paying for someone who gets the position by default."
Brian Burke is absolutely right and if Kulemin and his agent aren't careful, he could find himself without a contract next season.
From Kulemins standpoint, I understand where he's coming from. He was a first line winger with 36 points in 78 games. The trouble is those are hardly first line winger numbers.
Raffi Torres for example, played 74 games split between Buffalo and Columbus this season getting 36 points and made 2.75 million and will likely get a raise to about the very same three million mark which would reinforce Kullemin's position.
On the other side of that coin, you hve Chicago's Andrew Ladd who is not a first line winger and had 38 regular season points and is currently playing for the Stanlley Cup. While Ladd will earn a significant raise over the 1.65 million he made last year, it likely won't be in the 3 million range.
Trouble is Burke's not dumb, he's seen his current team over evaluate talent before.
I would love to see Nikolai Kulemin stay with the Leafs. I think he's got tremendous potential and he could be a big part of a winning team, but he needs to be patient the money will come.
Burke would probably love to re-sign Kulemin, but he's probably shopping for another left wing prospect as we speak.
Meanwhile back on the farm, the Kaberle situation is still up in the air. Brian Burke sent a memo out to the rest of the NHL's Gm's outlining the details of Kabby's no trade clause.
While the memo has generated a lot more interest, Burke was careful not to read too much into it saying
"There is significant interest, nothing that has crystallized yet and I don't anticipate doing anything, anytime soon."