The Panthers drafted Kulikov in the first round (14th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Last season, he appeared in 81 games and scored a career-high 8 goals to go along with 11 assists. Unfortunately, inconsistent play and some serious mental lapses led to a career-worst -26 rating.
With a new coaching staff in place and Panthers' management making a concerted effort to build a better blue line, here's hoping Kulikov, who now has 313 NHL regular season games under his belt, blossoms into the two-way defender the club, and its fans, have only gotten glimpses of over the last five years.
The signing leaves Jimmy Hayes as the remaining RFA to not re-up with club as of yet. Hayes has elected to take the Panthers to arbitration, but a deal could still be worked out before then.