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Q and A With Nikolai Kulemin

by Staff Writer / New York Islanders

The New York Islanders announced a big free agent signing Wednesday, inking physical winger Nikolai Kulemin to a four-year contract. The 27-year-old Russian spent his entire six-year NHL career with the Toronto Maple Leafs, scoring 30 goals in the 2010-11 season. Kulemin was signed on the same day as former-teammate and friend Mikhail Grabovski.

Kulemin is spending his offseason abroad, but had the chance to catch up with one of the newest members of the Islanders. How does it feel to be a New York Islander?

Nikolai Kulemin: It feels pretty good. I am happy to join this organization, as they have a great group of young guys who can improve. I am happy to play for the Islanders and to play with Grabovski again. We have good chemistry together and I am happy to sign a new contract.

NYI: Did you guys actively try to play for the same team?

NK: We talked a lot after last season. We thought it would be great if we could play together somewhere. We didn’t know if that was going to work or not, but I am happy that we get the chance to play together again on the same team and now the plan is to make the playoffs and go far.

NYI: How close are you guys?

NK: We are pretty close friends. We lived together for a while in our first year, but after that, we’ve lived [apart, but] pretty close. Our families are always in touch, even when he played for Washington. We are pretty good friends.

NYI: Tell the fans what kind of player you are? What do you bring to the game?

NK: I like to play physical and protect the puck down low. I like to shoot the puck; score goals. I like to play a fast game, forechecking the defensemen.

NYI: The team is moving to Brooklyn next season, are you excited for the move?

NK: I think it’s going to be great to get a new building. It’s going to be a good experience to play there. I know a lot of Russian people live in the Brooklyn area, so it’ll be a good experience for us and maybe a lot of Russia fans will start going to the games.

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