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May 20, 2014 | 11:03am ET
Penguins could pursue Kulemin
TheFourthPeriod.com

The Toronto Maple Leafs aren't expected to re-sign left wing Nikolai Kulemin this off-season, furthering speculation that he'll be targeted by the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Kulemin, 27, is set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1 and the belief is the Leafs aren't planning on offering him a contract extension.

The Penguins have expressed interest in trading for Kulemin in the past, given his friendship with star Evgeni Malkin, and could go after him this summer.

Malkin recently joined Team Russia in Minsk for the World Championships and was practicing on a line with Kulemin and former Phoenix Coyotes forward Viktor Tikhonov, who is currently playing for SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL.

Kulemin, a former 30-goal scorer, is coming off a two-year, $5.6 million contract. He earned $3 million this season.

The Penguins, currently searching for a new GM after firing Ray Shero last week, plan on going after a top-six winger this off-season.

Pittsburgh has 14 players locked up for the 2014-15 season taking up roughly $55.12 million in salary cap space. With between $12.88 million and $15.98 million in cap space, depending on where the cap ends up, the team's next GM will have to be quite creative in how it shapes the rest of its roster.

Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen, a pending UFA, is due for a significant raise and may not be re-signed.

Coming off a disappointing season, Kulemin may take less to sign with the Penguins and play alongside his friend, which would work under the team's cap structure.


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