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Dmitry Kulikov Stays (For Now)

Kulikov Just got word from the Panthers that Dmitry Kulikov is going to stay with the team and the first year of his entry level deal will kick in tomorrow when he plays against Ottawa.

Randy Sexton said this afternoon that Kulikov could stay throughout the season -- but if he starts to look like he's regressing, they have no problem sending him back to junior.

For now though, the kid's staying. Welcome to South Florida.

''We spent a lot of time, myself in particular talking about this,'' said Sexton, saying he spoke to Pete DeBoer and the coaching staff as well as other GMs and coaches who have kept 18-year-old players.

''We want to insure this decision was the right one. I got a lot of different input and feedback. A whole series of things needed to be considered. We have to do the best thing for the long term development of Dmitry Kulikov and what is in the best interests of our team. I think we accomplished both things. The best thing for Dmitry right now is staying with us. But he has to work, has to continue to improve. If there becomes a time when he's not developing, I will send him back. But he's here and he's excited. Now he can relax a little, get settled in.''

Sexton said Kulikov has definitely showed a propensity for getting better. That's something that excited DeBoer as well.

''He has a great ability to handle the puck, to make plays on the power play,'' Sexton said. ''He is confident on the power play. He makes plays under pressure. He's learned from his mistakes and he hasn't repeated them. If he starts to slide because of the intensity of the grind of the season, we might take a step back. But he's gotten better. He has shown an ability to get better. He has improved.

''He can help our team,'' Sexton concluded.

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