Tampa Bay Lightning Report Cards: Nikita Kucherov
Nikita Kucherov (82 GP, 41 G, 87 A, 128 Pts)
Grade – A
End of Year Awards
• Clean Sweep Award for winning the Art Ross, Ted Lindsay and Hart Memorial Trophy for performances during the regular season (And for the Lightning being swept in the playoffs).
• Shooting Ability
• Powerplay ability
• The defensive end of the game
• Continue momentum from last season
The 2018-19 regular season saw Kucherov reach new heights within his playing career – heights that are not seen often. Firstly, he broke the 125 point total record set by Joe Thornton in the 2005-06 season, for the highest point total set during the salary cap era. Numerous Lightning franchise records were also broken, including that for single-season point totals – surpassing Vincent Lecavalier’s longstanding record of 108.
It cannot be denied that Kucherov’s strength lies in his offensive abilities. He was a vital part of the Lightning scoring last season, causing issues for goaltenders and breaking through defense core’s across the league. The winger’s speed is also second to none, making him lethal in the offensive zone.
With assistance from Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Brayden Point, the Lightning’s powerplay became the stuff of nightmares for opposing teams. The forward’s natural ability to deceive defenders and find passing lanes contributed massively to the team’s overall production.
Naturally, one would expect his overall point production to diminish next season, but a massive decrease would be hard to predict. However, anything short of another 90-100 point season would be considered disappointing by many. This is heightened by the fact that he signed a $76 million, 8-year extension during the offseason last year.
In switching to a predominantly offensive playstyle, Kucherov’s defensive impact has dropped considerably the past few seasons. In particular, it saw a sharp decline this season. This may ultimately hinder him in the future as his offensive ability begins to regress with age. Hence why this is something that the winger could work on this offseason.
One can also not forget that Kucherov, like many others on the Lightning roster failed to perform during the post-season. He did not help matters by landing himself a single-game suspension for tripping Columbus Blue Jackets’ defenseman Markus Nutivaara and driving him into the boards in Game 2.
Overall, Kucherov solidified himself as one of the premier players in the league last season.
80 GP, 35 Goals, 68 Assists, 103 points
Brayden Point (RFA)
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