Vegas could take on Kulemin in deal with Islanders: report

Justin Cuthbert
The New York Islanders reportedly have a deal in place to lose Nikolay Kulemin to the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

Quite a few teams seem willing to cough up assets to protect additional players from the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL Expansion Draft. And there’s at least one that seems prepared to meet the cost of hand-picking the selection.

Arthur Staple of Newsday reports that the New York Islanders have cut a deal with the Golden Knights to take on the final season of Nikolay Kulemin’s free-agent deal. This would excuse forwards Brock Nelson, Josh Bailey, Ryan Strome and Casey Cizikas, as well as defenseman Calvin de Haan, who were all left unprotected.

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It will cost the Islanders at least a first-round pick to call their shot, according to Staple, and the deal will likely involve a third component. He suggests that injured forward Mikhail Grabovski could also be on the move, but that would mean Vegas would take on a second unwanted contract, and in turn free up more than $9 million for the Islanders.

If that’s the case, you would have to expect the Golden Knights to command more than the 15th overall selection to house both deals.

Kulemin scored 12 goals and totalled 23 points in 72 games last season. Grabovski has not played since suffering a concussion 15 months ago. His only value to the Golden Knights would be assistance in reaching the salary floor.

The Islanders opted to protect just three forwards, instead sheltering defensive prospects Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech from the expansion process. That initially indicated that general manager Garth Snow would accept the loss of a forward to preserve the future on the back end. But now it’s obvious that New York’s intent is to use Vegas as a conduit to solving its own problems.

Shedding Kulemin and Grabovksi would provide Snow with the wherewithal to acquire high-priced talent to pair with John Tavares, who can become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Matt Duchene and Jordan Eberle are talented forwards expected to be dealt at some point in the coming weeks, but with so many moving parts and back-channel discussions ahead of the expansion draft, the Islanders could be plotting an acquisition that might not be possible under normal circumstances.

The Islanders seem to be taking one of the more aggressive approaches to the expansion draft.

Raising the stakes in Vegas, mind you, goes only one of two ways.

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