As if things weren’t going bad enough for the Toronto Maple Leafs, this season they saw one of their brighter young stars regress.  Nikolai Kulemin had his worst season as a pro and failed to come anywhere near the 30 goals he tallied in 2010-11.  Kulemin had improved in each of his first three National Hockey League seasons, but in 2011-12 he made poolies rue the day they took a chance on him.


Kulemin’s downward spiral in production this season wasn’t due to one single factor, but rather several things that created a perfect storm.  His game lacked consistency and his play wasn’t as aggressive as it had been in previous seasons.  Combine this with the struggles of a fellow line mate and you have the perfect recipe for a year that was about as rough as the Indianapolis Colts had.


In 2010-11 Kulemin recorded 173 shots which led to a 30-goal campaign.  This year that number dropped to 107 and just seven goals.  If your shot totals decrease that significantly it is only natural that your goal totals will follow suit.  Not to mention that the quality of Kulemin’s shots dropped as well, as his shooting percentage went from 17.3 last year to 6.5 this season.   


Rank Name Pos Age Yrs GP Total Points PPG GP w/
Point ↑
% of GP w Pnts
1 Kessel C 24 5 82 64 0.78 46 56.1
1 MacArthur L 27 5 82 62 0.76 46 56.1
2 Kulemin L 25 3 82 57 0.7 45 54.9
3 Grabovski C 28 5 81 58 0.72 43 53.1
9 Bozak C 26 2 82 32 0.39 27 32.9
6 Kaberle D 34 12 58 38 0.66 26 44.8
5 Versteeg R 26 4 53 35 0.66 25 47.2
7 Phaneuf D 27 6 66 30 0.45 24 36.4
14 Schenn D 22 3 82 22 0.27 19 23.2
11 Gunnarsson D 25 2 68 20 0.29 19 27.9


The Leafs had come to rely on Kulemin as being one of their most consistent performers.  In 2010-11 he was third on the team in consistency with points in 45 games.


This season that number dropped to points in just 24 games, which was only good enough for 11th on the squad.  Kulemin could never generate enough consistent play to put together any solid point streaks.  No momentum means large gaps in a player’s production as you can see from his points chart from this year.


You would think consistency and streakiness would be the opposite of one another, but that isn’t necessarily the case.  If you can’t put any point streaks together during the season, when it’s all said and done your numbers will appear as of you weren’t able to produce on a regular basis.


Many times when a player has a down year it can be attributed to a change in line mates.  For Kulemin this is not the case as he played the majority of his time both this year and last with Mikhail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur. 




Frequency Strength Line Combination


What did change though is how one of his line mates produced.  In 2010-11 MacArthur had 62 points and 41 assists.  Let’s remember that in that same season Kulemin had 30 goals and was no doubt the recipient of several MacArthur helpers.  In 2011-12 MacArthur recorded just 43 points but his goal totals remained pretty consistent.  He had 20 this year and 21 last season.  What suffered however was his assist totals as he went from 41 down to 23.  This correlation no doubt affected Kulemin’s overall goal numbers.


Kulemin FP


What the stats don’t show is that Kulemin’s struggles were not for lack of effort.  The Russian left winger is a hard worker that was snake bitten for much of last season.  Poolies may want to consider holding on to him as his season may have been more of an anomaly as opposed to a true reflection of his character.  Sometimes if you can’t break out of a slump it ends up being an entire season’s worth of struggles.  Fantasy owners as well as Kulemin himself, will be hoping next season is the start of a new beginning.

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Hockey Hoser said:

Hockey Hoser
The chicken or the egg? Interesting piece, you're the first person I've read to blame MacArthur for Kulemin's poor point totals rather than the usual MacArthur's point totals being directly correlated to Kulemin's lack of goals. Chicken or egg? I don't know, to me Kulemin seemed distracted most of the season. The difference in his shot totals is an interesting stat. Bad passes or poor shooting? Chicken or egg? I'm gonna go with egg on this one.
May 24, 2012
Votes: +0

SharkMeat said:

Go Kulemin No choice had to keep and work (Hope) with your assumptions he jumps back into the top scoring lines.
May 24, 2012
Votes: +0
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