24-Year-Old Right Wing – Tampa Bay Lightning
Nikita Kucherov Contract Information:
Signed a three-year, $14.29 million contract extension with the Lightning in October of 2016.
Kucherov scored two goals, one on the power play, on six shots in Sunday's 3-1 win over the Oilers.
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Nikita Kucherov: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
The summer of 2016 felt painfully long for Kucherov fans who kept waiting and waiting for the Bolts to announce they'd inked the sniping winger to a new long-term deal. But July came and went without an announcement and fans worried even more. They shouldn't be concerned – Kucherov isn't going anywhere. He's one of the league's best young stars and let's face it – he was a complete bargain at a mere $700,000 in 2015-16. Kucherov is coming off a 30-goal season and a massive performance in the postseason, and the two sides just need to figure out some numbers. Kucherov is only 23 and hasn't hit his peak, so expect growth in his offensive numbers – try north of 70 points with a good 40 percent of those coming on the power play. He will move into the NHL's top-20 scorers this season and top-10 goal scorers. Yes, he's that good. Kucherov is fantasy gold in every format and league style that's played, and he'll be a cornerstone of your championship win.
Kucherov’s emergence in 2014-15 was nothing short of incredible. Although he was a well-regarded prospect, no one saw his rookie-season offensive explosion coming -- he collected 29 goals, 65 points and a plus-38 rating in the regular season, and he did it with pinpoint precision. His average ice time of 14:57 was below his Triplet linemates, Tyler Johnson (17:14) and Ondrej Palat (17:25). But come playoff time, that number went up to 17 minutes, and he responded with 22 points in 26 games, with 21 of those in an 18-game stretch. He’ll hit the 90-point mark in a few seasons, but this year, he’s more likely to deliver his first 30-goal, 75-point effort. The Triplet Line has only just gotten started, and there’ll be nothing that stops them for the next few years. Get on board early.
Kucherov is very talented -- he has a sniper's release and mentality, and executes at Mach speed. He's even unexpectedly worked on his own zone play, so he’s more than a one-zone wonder. His star is rising and so will his ice time. Right now, he has a shot at a regular, top-six gig, and that could mean slotting in right next to Valtteri Filppula. He could easily triple his output from 2013-14 (19 points). That means he's a borderline play in standard 10- or 12-team single-year leagues, but it’s in dynasty formats where he’s a real asset.
Holy smokes, this kid is talented. Kucherov spent part of this past season on the sideline, first recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and then a hand ouch. But he still knocked off a remarkable 63 points in just 33 games in the QMJHL and that put him into the league's top-50 scorers. Guess who his numbers compare to when you break it down to a point-per-game pace? Yup, CHL Player of the Year and now teammate, Jonathan Drouin. Nice. Sure, there are still questions of size, durability and the sad stereotype that comes with young Russian phenoms. But there's a chance he could some day be in the same superstar class as Nail Yakupov. All he needs is a stay-out-of-the-infirmary gold pass. Stash him away in keeper leagues. Now. Just remember he probably won't make a dent in single-year leagues for another couple seasons.
Kucherov's offensive skills are absolutely breathtaking and he executes them all at breakneck speed. But he's "forgetful" … he forgets he has teammates and he forgets his team has its own zone. Hey -- isn't that a nicer than saying "puck hog" or "cherry picker?" Oops, we said that out loud. He's a long way away, but his talent alone would be the best in the team's system. Unfortunately, his risk is the highest, too.
Kucherov is an offensive wizard -- he set a record at the World Under-18 tourney with 21 points in just seven games -- but he struggles with consistency. He's an elite stick-handler who was arguably the most talented offensive non-North American in his draft class. The Bolts drafted the tiny (5-10, 160) whiz in the second round in 2011 and he has definite star potential. The so-called 'Russian factor' may have contributed to his draft drop but general manager Stevie Yzerman clearly has no concerns about that. He's several years out but he's worth monitoring in keeper formats.