Dmitry Kulikov
Dmitry Kulikov
28-Year-Old DefensemanD
Winnipeg Jets
2019 Fantasy Outlook
Kulikov figures to hold down a third-pairing role heading into the 2019-20 campaign, but his place in the lineup is far from secure. Youngsters Sami Niku, Logan Stanley and Anthony Bitetto will all be pushing for minutes, which could relegate the veteran Kulikov to the press box from time to time. Fantasy owners just need to look at the Russian's goal total from last year (none) to realize he won't provide much in terms of value in even deeper formats. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a three-year, $12.99 million contract with the Jets in July 2017.
Expected back Thursday
DWinnipeg Jets
October 9, 2019
Kulikov (personal) is expected to return to the lineup for Thursday's game against the Wild, Ken Wiebe of The Athletic reports.
Kulikov was granted a leave of absence to be present for the birth of his child, but he'll be back in action against Minnesota. The 28-year-old will likely slot into a top-four role for the Jets, but he has virtually zero offensive upside, so he can be ignored in all but the deepest of fantasy formats.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Injuries have taken a serious toll on Kulikov. Buoyed by a back injury that required surgery after the Western Conference finals, the Russian appeared in 62 games for the Jets last season which was right in line with his career averages over a nine-year span. One of Kulikov's redeeming qualities had been his ability to log 20-plus minutes from the blue line on a yearly basis but he clocked 17:04 of average rink run for a career-low mark in 2017-18. While defensemen generally cost a premium in fantasy leagues due to the relative scarcity of the position, Kulikov is likely to toil on the virtual waiver wire as he hasn't cleared 20 points since the 2014-15 campaign with the Panthers.
Kulikov’s one-year stopover in Buffalo was forgettable: He played just 47 games, scored just five points and finished with a minus-26 rating -- ninth-worst in the league and nine ticks worse than the next Sabre. Despite failing to solidify and provide a veteran presence for a young blue line, he still landed a three-year deal worth $13 million with the Jets, where he’s expected to play a supporting role on the second or third pairing. It won't be hard for the 2009 draft’s No. 14 overall selected to improve on his woeful 2016-17 season, but much of his value is still derived from his penchants for blocking shots and dishing hits.
Acquired via trade by the Sabres from Florida over the offseason, Kulikov will assume much the same role he had on the Panthers -- dishing hits and blocking shots. His added defensive presence will take some pressure off Josh Gorges and Zach Bogosian, maybe even allowing Rasmus Ristolainen or Jake McCabe to take more chances on offense. Once upon a time a first-round pick and well-regarded fantasy prospect, Kulikov has scored just four goals in his past 174 regular season games, so offense isn’t his strong suit, although he's considered a good puck mover. Still only 25, Kuikov could still develop more productivity, but you can't draft him with the expectation of that materializing this year.
Kulikov is coming off a somewhat disappointing season in which he put up three goals and 19 assists in 73 games for the Panthers. After scoring eight goals in 2013-14, Kulikov's regression was due to a drastically diminished shooting percentage, which fell from 6.3 percent down to 3.6 percent. It didn't help matters that Kulikov also attempted 44 fewer shots. Playing more than 21 minutes per game while fluctuating in and out of the Panthers’ top four, Kulikov is a solid defensive blueliner, but doesn't provide enough on the score sheet to give him much in the way of fantasy value. That said, if he can find a way to ratchet up his shot attempts, he should improve upon last season’s three-goal output.
Five years into his NHL career, the 23 year-old Kulikov is an enigma. Coming off arguably his worst season, Kulikov will need to demonstrate that he still possesses the skills to reemerge as a useful fantasy defenseman. In 2013-14, Kulikov scored just eight goals and 19 points to go along with a minus-26 rating, but he did at least manage to set new career-highs in shots, hits, and PIM, suggesting a some maturation in his physical game even as his scoring dipped. The Panthers’ new management staff includes the defensive coach who helped mold a Kings squad that has been among the league's best on that side of the ice, and his tutelage may help boost Kulikov's game. There is reason for some optimism that Kulikov could show some improvement while costing very little to get onto your team, but until he shows dramatic change, he will remain a risky investment.
Kulikov recorded a line of 3/7/10 in 34 games with the Panthers last season, but missed the end of the season with a shoulder injury. With the shoulder now surgically repaired, it will be interesting to see if the 22-year-old former first round draft pick can push his offensive game to the next level.
Kulikov continues to progress, scoring a career-high 28 points in only 58 games played this past season. Injuries curtailed what was shaping up to be the young defender's finest season, as did several stretches of inconsistency. The former 2009 first-round pick has really picked up his game making him an attractive fantasy option. While there may be some dips in production throughout the course of a season, Kulikov remains a strong long-term prospect, especially in keeper leagues.
Kulikov took another step forward in his development, posting career highs in goals (6), assists (20) and points (26). Still only 20 years old, Kulikov has major breakout potential considering an increased opportunity to rack up assists as a result of the Panthers' offseason shopping spree. Kulikov will frustrate owners at times as he continues to work at his game while playing in the NHL, but he's definitely an upside pick.
In 2009-10, Kulikov averaged over 17 minutes of ice time in 68 games as a rookie. This 19-year-old is a well-rounded rearguard who could dent the box score more frequently as he matures. Already, he's known as a smart player who can hold his own on the ice. He'll be given every opportunity to thrive on Florida's blue line, but it would be smart to exercise caution when drafting him, as it could take him another season to fully bloom.
There are indications the Panthers will give Kulikov a serious look in training camp, but it's more likely that the puck-moving defenseman will end up back in Drummondville of the QMJHL. He's certainly a name to keep an eye on in the future, though.
More Fantasy News
Tending to personal matter
DWinnipeg Jets
October 7, 2019
Kulikov is dealing with a personal matter and won't be in the lineup against Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Ken Wiebe of The Athletic reports.
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Earns helper
DWinnipeg Jets
March 8, 2019
Kulikov notched an assist in Friday's 8-1 win over the Hurricanes.
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Tallies assist
DWinnipeg Jets
March 4, 2019
Kulikov garnered an assist versus the Blue Jackets on Sunday.
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Back in action
DWinnipeg Jets
February 16, 2019
Kulikov (upper body) will return to the lineup for Saturday's game against the Senators,'s Scott Billeck reports.
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Out of lineup versus Avs
DWinnipeg Jets
Upper Body
February 14, 2019
Kulikov (upper body) won't be in action against Colorado on Thursday, Sara Orlesky of reports.
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