22-Year-Old Right Wing – Tampa Bay Lightning
Nikita Kucherov Contract Information:
Signed to a three-year, entry-level contract with the Lightning in September of 2012.
Kucherov scored the game-winning goal and added two power-play assists in Saturday's 5-0 win over the Ducks.
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Nikita Kucherov: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
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.