Could Latvian defenceman Artus Kulda return to the Winnipeg Jets?

Marianne Helm

Yesterday Gary Lawless floated the idea that the Jets should bring Alexander Burmistrov, Arturs Kulda, and Ivan Telegin back over from the KHL. Should the Jets pursue the 25 year old defenceman?

The name that stood out the most for me was Arturs Kulda, the Latvian defence man. While bringing over Alexander Burmistrov and signing him with the money that Olli Jokinen vacates should be a no brainer, Kulda could still end up being a useful peice. Still, there is very little knowledge among Jets' fans his recent play. He is intriguing though and so I have (using anecdotal evidence) decided to start to beat the drum to bring Kulda back into the fold for once and for all.

First of all, we do not know 100% what Kulda's contract in the KHL allows him to do. He may not have an out clause and he may have to buy his contract out if he wants to come back over next year. There is one reason that he may want to come back over; his little brother Edgars plays for the WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings. Coming back to North America and playing in Winnipeg would move him closer to his brother.

The most compelling argument to bring Kulda back goes to the Olympics. In the recap on LNH.com of the Latvia game is noted that Sidney Crosby was the player that Kulda had to contend with the most. Furthermore, Kulda started a majority of his non-neutral zone shifts in the defensive zone. For him to have such a good game against Crosby and the train that was Team Canada. Though the sample size is tiny, I think it does warrant some consideration, but with the re-signing for Mark Stuart for four years, I do not know how realistic bringing Kulda over with the looming presence of Josh Morrissey.

The final piece of evidence is purely anecdotal and comes from Eyes on the Prize contributor Stephan Cooper. After the Canada/Latvia article was published I started asking questions and he pointed out that Kulda was second only to PK Subban in +/- on the AHL his last full year there. I know the +/- is a highly flawed statistic, but that is still pretty good. Then there is the second hand scouting report from Bettman's Nightmare. According to his people, Kulda is a plus player in the KHL. Even if Kulda topped out at a four, he would help the Jets.

In all, bringing back Kulda could yield a top four defender. If they bring him over on a one year contract that says he plays in Winnipeg or the KHL. Is there much to lose if the Jets take a flyer on Kulda and he does not work out? The current defence does not play like it. If you take a chance and you get burned is it really an issue? No, because you tried. I would like to see Kulda given another chance as he is only 25 and can still become a defensive defence man who does not score at all.

If you need the translations for the LNH.com article, they are all available here.

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