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RFA Kulikov re-signs with Florida

Jan 17, 2013, 5:16 PM EDT

Source: Paul Bereswill/Getty Images North America Getty Images

The Florida Panthers will enter the shortened season with Dmitry Kulikov after he inked a two-year contract, according to the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov.

Kulikov spent the lockout playing for the KHL’s Yaroslavl Lokomotiv and he remained in Russia even after the work stoppage ended.

Talks looked bleak on Tuesday when Panthers assistant GM Mike Santos admitted that he hadn’t been in contact with Kulikov’s agent in 48 hours.

After being selected with the 14th overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, the Russian-born defenseman has already cemented himself as a critical part of the Florida Panthers. He had 28 points and averaged 21:51 minutes per contest in 58 games last season. He’s also become a big part of Florida’s efforts with the man advantage, which was one of its key strengths last season.

Retaining Kulikov’s services was especially important for Florida after Jason Garrison signed with the Vancouver Canucks over the summer.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie noted that the deal is still not finalized as Florida wants Kulikov to submit to a full medical.

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