Winnipeg Jets’ coach Paul Maurice said today that the team will be without defenseman Dmitry Kulikov for at least a month with an upper-body injury, according to Winnipeg Sun’s Ken Wiebe. Kulikov went down Friday after being checked hard by Colorado’s Gabriel Bourque.
Kulikov, who received a three-year, $13MM deal last summer, hasn’t had a major impact on the team this season as he was only playing in his sixth game of the year Friday, averaging just 10:59 ATOI in those games with one assist. Kulikov has had trouble finding a regular spot in the Jets’ defensive lineup and this injury won’t improve his chances when he eventually returns. With two years remaining on Kulikov’s deal, it already looks like the team made significant mistakes when it locked up both Kulikov and goaltender Steve Mason to free agent contracts in the summer of 2017. Mason has since been traded off (the team had to trade off Joel Armia and two draft picks to do it)and currently is out of the NHL, while Kulikov has dealt with numerous injuries and defensive inconsistencies that saw him get benched during the playoffs a year ago.
The team said they will recall a defenseman, but the team may wait until after tonight’s Manitoba Moose’s game tonight. It’s likely the team will promote their top AHL defenseman of the night, which would likely be between Tucker Poolman and Sami Niku.