The Pittsburgh Penguins have announced that they will place defenseman Dmitry Kulikov on long-term injured reserve (LTIR) due to an upper-body injury. This means that Kulikov will be out of the lineup for a minimum of ten games or 24 days, whichever comes first.
Kulikov was acquired by the Penguins in a trade deadline deal with the New Jersey Devils in April. He quickly became a key part of their defensive corps, playing in 10 games and recording two assists while averaging over 17 minutes of ice time per game.
However, Kulikov suffered an upper-body injury in a game against the Boston Bruins on May 3, and has not played since. It was initially thought to be a minor injury, but it has turned out to be more serious than anticipated.
By placing Kulikov on LTIR, the Penguins are able to free up salary-cap space to make other moves. According to CapFriendly.com, placing Kulikov on LTIR will allow the Penguins to exceed the salary cap by his $1.15 million cap hit.
The Penguins have been busy this offseason, re-signing several key players and adding new faces to their roster. They recently signed forward Brock McGinn to a four-year contract and acquired forward Danton Heinen in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks.
With Kulikov out of the lineup, the Penguins will need other defensemen to step up and fill the void. They have several experienced defensemen on their roster, including Kris Letang, Brian Dumoulin, and Mike Matheson.
Overall, losing Kulikov is a blow to the Penguins’ defensive depth, but they have the talent and depth to overcome the injury. It will be interesting to see how they adjust their roster over the next few weeks, especially with the NHL’s expansion draft taking place on July 21.