As the New York Islanders lost the second round playoff series against the Tampa Bay Lightning with a 4-1 score, the Russian Hockey Federation asked forward Nikolai Kulemin to join Team Russia at the 2016 IIHF WC in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia.
In the 2016 playoffs, Kulemin scored one goal and four points in 11 games. Kulemin, who will turn 30 on July 14th, will thus skate at his eighth World Championship, after debuting in 2006 in Riga, Latvia, when the Russians had a disappointing quarterfinals exit after losing 4-3 to Team Czech Republic.
“New York Islanders forward Nikolai Kulemin has been called to the national team after his team finished their Stanley Cup run,” the RIHF wrote on their website. “We’ll work out the details after today’s game against Team Latvia. After the season Nikolai has to undergo a series of steps with his NHL team, including a medical checkup, and if the Islanders will release him, he’ll join the national team.” Kulemin may be able to skate as soon as May 12th against Team Denmark.
A native of Magnitogorsk, Russia, like Evgeni Malkin and Washington Capitals goaltending prospect Ilya Samsonov, Kulemin has represented Team Russia internationally on a number of occasions. He won the gold medal at the 2004 U18 WJC in Minsk, Belarus, when Team Russia defeated a Phil Kessel-led Team USA by a score of 3-2. He won a silver medal at the U20 level and also helped Team Russia win a bronze, two silver, and two gold medals at the senior World Championship.
In 2014, once again in Belarus, Kulemin helped Team Russia win the gold medal as an alternate captain. On top of that, Kulemin also skated for Team Russia at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi.
At WC level, Kulemin scored a total of 12 goals and 32 points in 63 games. On his CV, Kulemin also has a Russian Superleague championship title with Metallurg Magnitogorsk in 2006-2007, when he was named MVP of the season.
In March, Kulemin was included in the preliminary list of players that will skate for Team Russia at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, Ontario. After two games of the qualifying round, Russia is in the fourth spot of Group A after losing 3-0 to Team Czech Republic in their debut game and defeating Team Kazakhstan 6-4 in their second game.
In both games the Russians were backstopped by Sergei Bobrovsky, who will start today against Team Latvia too.
A professional hockey writer and translator. Loves Russian culture, language, and hockey. Reachable on twitter @AlexSerenRosso