40-Year-Old Center – Minnesota Wild
Matt Cullen Contract Information:
Signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the Wild in August of 2017.
Cullen had an assist and two blocks in Thursday's win over Chicago. He also had 1:01 of power-play ice time.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Fresh off a Stanley Cup win with the Penguins, Cullen seems reinvigorated, though heís only suited for a fourth-line role. Cullenís 16 goals last year marked his highest total in seven years, and itís unlikely the 39-year-old will be able to get anywhere near that total after averaging eight goals in three seasons prior. He remains a solid centerman and penalty killer, and anything more than that is a bonus.
After laying dormant for most of the season, Cullen came alive down the stretch with four goals and 11 assists in his last 12 games, allowing him to post a respectable 39 points. Otherwise, it was a forgettable campaign for Cullen -- his first in a Preds uniform -- after he spent the previous three seasons in Minnesota. Cullen occupied a checking-line role for most of last season, a designation he is likely to fill once again this season, as the teamís offseason additions provide more options for the top two lines. Cullen has never cracked the 50-point barrier in his career, and is not likely to do so now that he has reached the ripe old age of 36. He makes for a decent late-round selection in deeper fantasy drafts, but not much more.
Cullen, who signed a two-year, $7 million deal with Nashville in July, had seven goals this past year with Minnesota after averaging 12 goals the previous three seasons. At 36 years old, Cullen's best days are probably behind him. But he's still a very versatile forward who should be a valuable addition to the Preds' dismal power play. He is expected to open the season as the Preds' third-line center, behind Mike Fisher and David Legwand.
Cullen will turn 36 in November and hasn't been much of a scoring threat since his arrival in Minnesota, posting consecutive seasons of 39 and 35 points while averaging 13 goals. Cullen is used in a variety of situations, including at the faceoff dot, but the influx of good, young talent in the land of lakes will likely reduce his opportunities for offense. He's on the downside of a solid career and heís more valuable to the Wild than on your roster.
Special teams is the name of the game for Cullen. Last season more than half of his 39 points were crafted on the man advantage, and the veteran journeyman had four shorthanded goals to boot. He was also able to reach the impressive milestone of 500 career points (181 G, 319 A) through 958 games. Fantasy owners won't appreciate his week-to-week inconsistency, but Cullen has finished in or around the 40-point range for six consecutive seasons. That makes him a safe third-or-fourth fantasy forward in most league types.
Cullen should help fill a void for the Wild who've lacked a veteran center the past two seasons. He's got a nice all-around game as he gets time on the power play, has good defensive skills and gets enough shots to post 40 to 50 points. If Pierre-Marc Bouchard doesn't return from a concussion, his profile on the offensive end could increase.
Cullen typically hangs around the 40-point total for a seasonís worth of work. In 2008-09 he was an impressive plus-11, and really made the most of his shots based on a career-best shot percentage of 15.8. There are plenty of centers whoíll inflict more damage to your fantasy opponent, but Cullen is a reliable depth option for the back end of your rotation.
Cullen is likely to benefit from Carolina's more offensive-minded blue line corps. Expect him to break through the 50-point barrier for the first time.
We expect Cullen's return to the Hurricanes to be relatively seamless, given the fact that the Carolina roster is largely intact from the 2005-06 season. His numbers should improve slightly from last year's totals, but probably won't get to the level of his last season in a Carolina sweater (25-24-49).
Coming off a career year in points (49) with the Hurricanes last season, the Rangers acted quickly to secure him to a four year deal to be their second line centerman. Depending on how quickly he meshes with new linemates Prucha and Shanahan, Cullen could be poised for a serviceable fantasy season.
Cullen is a role player who probably does not have enough value to warrant consideration at center.