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Read Between the Lines: Dmitry Kulikov Staying

KulikovThe Panthers won't come right out and say it, but 18-year-old defenseman Dmitry Kulikov isn't going anywhere soon.

Wednesday's game against the Sabres will be his seventh in his NHL career; he can play in three more before the first year of his three-year entry level deal goes into affect.

Basically, it's a point of no return. The Panthers will be paying him then, and he will have gained a year of NHL service. After that, there is no reason to send him back to the Quebec major-junior league (he can't play in the AHL because he is too young).

Kulikov has played well enough to be on a top four pairing, and he is on the top power play combo most of the time. Coach Pete DeBoer said today that he thought Kulikov was the best player in the QMJHL last year and that it would do him no good to go back there and dominate play.

DeBoer said the only way Florida sends him back was if he wasn't cutting it on the top six and was sitting in the press box eating popcorn. Obviously, that's not the case. Pete thinks he's a player who can help the team and wants him here.

So, as Billy Lindsay said today, read between the lines. He's staying.

-- Speaking of Lindsay, congrats to the FSN crew for picking up a pair of Suncoast Emmy Awards.

FSN/Sun have a total of 16 such nominations, but two regarding their Panthers coverage.

For live game coverage, Mike Rubin, Mitch Rubenstein, Steve Goldstein, DENIS POTVIN, John Valek and Craig Minervini were nominated for their coverage of the Panthers-Leafs game in which Richard Zednik made his return. Rubenstein and Forte were also nominated for their Zednik feature from Buffalo.

Good luck.