Karma, thy name is Kucherov.
Last fall, Patrick Roy of the Quebec Remparts decided he didn’t want to play Lightning prospect Nikita Kucherov in favor of Sabres first rounder Mikhail Grigorenko from Russia and Danish import Nick Sorensen. CHL rules state teams can only dress two import players at a time, so Kucherov, despite registering 10 points in six games, was the odd man out. Not being a fan of sitting in the pressbox, Kucherov requested a trade and Roy obliged, sending the Lightning 2009 second rounder to Rouyn-Noranda. The Huskies reaped the rewards as Kucherov had 26-27-53 in 27 games with the club.
Last week, the 8th ranked Huskies eliminated Roy’s 5th ranked Remparts, winning the second round series four games to one.
Kucherov was relatively quiet against Grigorenko, Sorensen, and Quebec until the series-clinching game. The winger registered three goals and three assists in a 6-1 Game 5 win, nearly single-handedly sending Roy to the golf course. Kucherov also had an assist in Game 4 and finished the series with 4-5-9 in five games. For that, he is our Prospect of the Week. He was also named the Canadian Hockey League Player of the Week.
The Lightning signed the young Russian when he arrived in North America this past fall and the organization will further develop him in the system next year in Syracuse. With an open competition in Tampa next fall for a scoring line spot, he’s a darkhorse to play in the NHL, but must add weight and 2-way acumen to do so. With Yzerman’s patient approach, expect Kucherov to get his ice time in the AHL.
BoltProspects.com ranks Kucherov No. 8 among Lightning prospects.