The Toronto Maple Leafs and winger Nikolai Kulemin are headed for arbitration, according to a report in the Toronto Star.
Kulemin, a restricted free agent, earned $2.2 million last year, with a cap hit of $2.35 million. The Maple Leafs cannot offer less than 85 per cent of Kulemin’s 2011-12 salary when arbitration hearings begin July 20 in Toronto.
According to Kulemin’s agent, Gary Greenstin, the Russian winger is intent on returning to Toronto next season.
“Kulemin loves the city and loves the organization a lot and would like to stay in Toronto,” Greenstin told The Star. “But not everything is in my, and Kulemin’s, hands.
“I believe the Leafs like him, but now it’s strictly business.”
The 25-year-old struggled last season, finishing with seven goals and 28 points after notching a career-high 30 goals and 57 points in 2010-11.
Kulemin and the Leafs can negotiate a new deal prior to the hearing. Once in arbitration, both sides present a figure to an arbitrator, who chooses a winner based on a variety of factors.
The Star also reported that the Maple Leafs did not file for arbitration with restricted free agent Cody Franson, while defenceman Korbinian Holzer agreed to terms on a one-year, one-way contract.