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Behind The Bench: Dmitry Kulikov

by on 08/18/2011

Vitals

Born:  Lipetsk, Soviet Union
Birth date: October 29, 1990
Height:  6’1” (185 cm)
Weight:  183 lbs (83 kg)
Position:  Defense
Shoots:  Left
NHL Draft:  14th overall by the Florida Panthers in 2009
NHL Team:  Florida Panthers
Jersey No.:  #7
National Team: Russia
NHL Contract: 11/12
Cap Hit: $1,325,000

History

2008-09: Kulikov left the Lokomotive-2 Yaroslavl in the Prevaya Liga to sign with the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL. In his first North American hockey season, Kulikov led all QMJHL rearguards with 62 points (12 goals and 50 assists) in 57 games and took home several awards for his excellent season, including the Raymond Lagace Trophy as the Defensive Rookie of the Year, the Emile Bouchard Trophy for QMJHL Defenseman of the Year, the Mike Bossy Trophy as the QMJHL’s best pro prospect and was named the QMJHL Rookie of the Year. After his rookie year in the Q, Kulikov was drafted 14th overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by the Florida Panthers.

2009-10: Kulikov signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Panthers on September 29, 2009 and made the immediate jump to the NHL. He recorded 16 points (3 goals and 13 assists) in 68 games, Kulikov would have played all 82 games for the Panthers but suffered a knee injury in January that forced him to miss 14 games.

2010-11: Kulikov spent the entire season with the Panthers and played in 72 games and recorded 26 points (6 goals and 20 assists), he suffered a rib and an ankle injury that shortened his season. Kulikov joined Russia for the IIHF World Championships and recorded 3 points (1 goal and 2 assists) in 9 games.

Talent Analysis

Kulikov is an offensive defenseman that pucks the puck well. He has high levels of skill and confidence beyond his years. He has tremendous offensive instincts and is a power play staple but he is not a slouch in his own zone. Kulikov’s skating is smooth enough for him to get back into position to break up any attack, although he still needs to improve his confidence level in his own zone. He has a good shot that he can get through from the point but does not use it as often as he should. Kulikov is an excellent passer from the point and is more of a set-up than a finisher. He has superb hockey sense and understands the game very well.

Kulikov is still adjusting to the more physical North American style but should adapt well. He needs to continue to fill out his frame and strengthen himself. He always needs to bring more physicality to his game to compete in the corners and against the boards.

Future

Florida has high expectations for Kulikov as they consider him one of the first steps in their rebuild, along with Jacob Markstrom and Erik Gudbranson. Kulikov has the offensive instincts to become dominate offensively but he has the potential to become a very good two-way defender. Kulikov will need to adjust to the smaller ice of the North American game. He also needs to adjust to the physical grind of a longer North American season and increase his strength and physical game. Kulikov is Florida’s power play quarterback and will likely break the 40-point mark in 2011-12. Whether he produces at a higher level will depend on the supporting cast Florida provides him. Kulikov will likely become a perennial 40-45-point producer while in Florida.

NHL Highlights

  • 1st NHL Game – October 2, 2009 vs. Chicago Blackhawks
  • 1st NHL Goal – November 7, 2009 vs. Washington Capitals (even-strength goal)
  • 1st NHL Assist – October 10, 2009 vs. New Jersey Devils (Assist on Stephen Weiss power play goal)
  • 1st NHL Point –  October 10, 2009 vs. New Jersey Devils (Assist on Stephen Weiss power play goal)
  • 1st NHL Multi-point game – November 7, 2009 vs. Washington Capitals (2 points, 1 goal and 1 assist)

Career Highlights

  • 2007 IIHF World U-18 Championship Gold Medal
  • 2008 IIHF World U-18 Championship Silver Medal
  • 2008-09 QMJHL Raymond Lagace Trophy
  • 2008-09 QMJHL Emile “Butch” Bouchard Trophy
  • 2008-09 QMJHL Rookie of the Year
  • 2008-09 QMJHL Michael Bossy Trophy
  • 2008-09 QMJHL First All-Star Team (Defenseman)
  • 2008-09 QMJHL All-Rookie Team (Defenseman)
  • 2009 IIHF World U-20 Championship Bronze Medal
  • 2010 Ice Hockey World Championship  Silver Medal

Career Stats

NHL Regular Season: 140 GP, 9 G, 33 A, 42 Pts
QMJHL Regular Season:
57 GP, 12 G, 50 A, 62 Pts
QMJHL Playoffs:
19 GP, 2 G, 18 A, 20 Pts
WJC:
7 GP, 0 G, 4 A, 4 Pts
WJ18:
6 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 Pts
WC:
18 GP, 2 G, 3 A, 5 Pts

 

Behind The Bench appears Monday to Friday only on puckpuckgoose.com.

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