Avs Interested In Kulikov?


Jan. 9, 2012: Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov (7) warms up before a game against the Vancouver Canucks at the BankAtlantic Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Avalanche have been reported as a team interested in defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, 14th overall selection in the 2009 NHL Draft by the Florida Panthers. Here is the report from Adrian Dater:

"According to ace Rogers Sportsnet reporter/podcast host Jeff Marek they are.Marek, one of the hockey media people I respect a lot, said on the air that his sources are telling him the Avs have interest in Florida Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, the 14th overall pick by Florida in 2009 – 11 spots behind Matt Duchene."

Kulikov has recently been struggling with the Panthers and was benched by coach Peter Horachek. He has been a turnover machine for Florida as Horachek had seen enough of him after a turnover that led to a goal for PittsburghPenguins last Saturday. This season, Kulikov has appeared in 27 games, scoring one goal and adding two assists for a total of three points.

He is in his fifth season of play, and is only 23 years of age. He is said to have tremendous upside and could be a high-risk, high-reward kind of deal for the Avalanche. It is unknown at this point who could be involved in the deal, but the Avalanche are in need of defense help. Patrick Roy could help teach Kulikov the ropes by easing him in, and could possibly maximize his potential. Here is a quote from Dmitry Kulikov in an interview with SunSentinel following his healthy-scatch:

"“I think most of this is mental”, said Kulikov, who has three points in 23 games with a minus-9 on-ice rating and 14 turnovers. “The mistakes I have made weren’t forced. I shouldn’t have made them. What happened, happened, just work hard to get it out of me and not worry about it."

The Colorado Avalanche have two good defenseman in Jan Hejda and Erik Johnson, but after that, it’s pretty thin. Hedja (+17) and Johnson (+15) rank second and fourth in the NHL for defenseman in plus/minus. What does plus/minus mean you ask?

"A statistic in hockey that measures the goal differential of a player where each player on the ice receives a plus when their team scores a goal and each player on the ice receives a minus when their team is scored against. Plus-minus is only calculated at even-strength or when the other team scores short-handed."

The other defenseman for the Colorado Avalanche, Cory Sarich (+4), Tyson Barrie (+3), Nate Guenin (+2), Andre Benoit (0) combine for a +9 rating. The Avalanche are currently 19-6-0 on the season, so really the plus/minus should be higher. Kulikov on the other hand, has registered a (-9) rating, fourth-worst on the Panthers roster. The Panthers on the season are 7-16-5, the second worst record in the National Hockey League, so the stats may be skewed a little, as only four Panthers players are at 0 or above.  The Avalanche are in dire need of a defenseman or two, and I believe Kulikov needs a coach that believes in him and could use a change of scenery. Patrick Roy and the Colorado Avalanche might be a perfect place for Dmitry Kulikov to revitalize his young career.