Islanders Get Busy, Reach Deals With Veteran Forwards Grabovski, Kulemin
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After having a somewhat disappointing opening day of free agency, the Islanders bounced back on Day 2, reaching agreements with a pair of veteran forwards.
The Islanders will give center Mikhail Grabovski a four-year, $20 million contract, and winger Nikolai Kulemin a four-year, $16.75 million deal, the team announced on Wednesday.
“It’s like fishing. You put your line in the water and you hope for some nibbles. We got two big bites today,” general manager Garth Snow told Newsday.
Grabovski had 35 points, including 22 assists, in 58 games last season with the Washington Capitals.
In 425 career NHL games with Washington, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, Grabovski has 252 points (107 goals, 145 assists), including a career-high 58 points in 81 games for the Leafs during the 2010-11 season.
A fifth round selection in the 2004 draft by Montreal, Grabovski, a 30-year-old native of Belarus, figures to slide into the No. 2 center spot for the Islanders, with veteran Frans Nielsen likely to move to his more effective checking line center role.
Kulemin, 27, had 20 points in 70 games last season for Toronto.
In 421 career NHL games, spanning six seasons, all with the Maple Leafs, Kulemin has 195 points (84 goals, 111 assists). The 6-foot-1, 225-pound winger enjoyed a career season in 2010-11, recording 30 goals and 57 points in 82 games.
Kulemin, a second round pick in the 2006 draft, played for Team Russia at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. He also won gold at the 2014 World Championships, marking his sixth World Championship appearance and his fourth medal (two gold, one silver, one bronze).
Kulemin will likely get a shot to play alongside franchise center John Tavares and the Isles’ leading scorer last season, Kyle Okposo, on the top line.
The moves followed a somewhat disappointing opening day for the Islanders on Tuesday as GM Snow made big offers to veteran forwards Jarome Iginla and Thomas Vanek, and defenseman Dan Boyle, only to be rebuffed, Newsday reported.
The Isles did make several depth signings, including inking veteran forward Cory Conacher, and solidifying goaltender by bringing in Chad Johnson from Boston to back up Jaroslav Halak.
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