It appears that the Utica Comets have found their replacement for Michael Garteig. Ivan Kulbakov’s agent sent out a tweet to let people know that his client has signed a one-year AHL pact with the Comets.
Ivan Kulbakov signs 1 year AHL contract with Vancouver Canucks Organization
— Dan Milstein-Hockey (@HockeyAgent1) July 16, 2018
Kulbakov is a 21-year-old undrafted goaltender out of Belarus who stands six-feet tall and weighs 183lbs. He spent the 2016/17 season in the USHL with the Youngstown Phantoms, getting into 52 games and posting a 1.92 goals-against average and a 0.902 save percentage.
He followed up that very good season by signing a one-year AHL deal with the Cleveland Monsters of the AHL where he only managed to get into eight games. During those eight games, he put up underwhelming numbers with a goals-against average of 3.99 and a save percentage of 0.861.
The rest of his season was spent with the Quad City Mallards of the ECHL where he got into 22 games and posted a slightly better 3.63 goals-against average and 0.902 save percentage.
The parent Vancouver Canucks have had a pretty solid track record when acquiring players out of the USHL. I am unclear at this point if they had any input on this move, but I am going to assume there would have been some communication on the player.
If that is indeed the case, it is possible that the club sees Kulbakov as more than a one-year stopgap player and possibly as somewhat of a project with untapped potential. At just 21-years-old, he is young enough to be worth putting a little time into.
I was expecting the team to add a third goaltender this offseason and now that they have that position under control, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another defenceman or two added to the fold as well.