The New York Islanders pulled the biggest surprise on the second day of NHL free agency by signing two players that no one expected them to. Wednesday afternoon saw the Isles announce the acquisition of Nikolai Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski as both signed four-year contracts. Kulemin who had spent his entire six year career with Toronto will earn $16.75 million over the course of his contract while his former Leafs teammate will earn $20 million.
The signings will certainly bolster the Islanders young offensive corps as the Russian and Belorussian duo bring 447 points between them to the island. Being good friends off the ice, sharing the same agent, and being reunited with former assistant coach Greg Cronin all played a part in the tandems signing and its been reported the two wanted a package deal.
Grabovski is coming off a year of fluke injuries but still managed to net 35 points in 58 games and could likely center the second line just behind of John Tavares. Kulemin had his least productive season in the NHL netting just 20 points in 70 games but the Islanders hope a re-union with Grabovski can turn things around for the one-time 30 goal scorer.
The 27-year-old represented Russia in Sochi and even faced off against his new teammate at the World Championship in Grabovski’s homeland of Belarus. Kulemin’s signing makes him the first Russian forward on the Islanders since Alexei Yashin while Grabovski becomes the first Belorussian in franchise history.