The Tampa Bay Lightning seem to be remaining optimistic as they are continuing to move forward in this offseason. Today GM Steve Yzerman announced that they signed 2011 second round draft pick, 58th overall, Nikita Kucherov to a three year, entry level contract.
Kucherov is a native of Moscow, Russia. He is 5′ 11″ and weighs 174 pounds. He was drafted by the Quebec Remparts in the 2012 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Import Draft. He has not yet played a game with the Remparts due to an off season shoulder injury that also kept him out of the 2012 Tampa Bay Lightning Development Camp. (So this makes him a prime candidate why?)
It seems to me that the Lightning just might possibly be becoming a rehabilitation center for injured hockey players who wouldn’t otherwise get a chance. In the case of Ryan Shannon, who I absolutely adored, it bit them in the butt. He was fast on the ice, but injured most of the time. He has signed with a team in Switzerland, so he will not be part of the Lightning organization anymore. I sincerely wish him all the best. I hope that he stays healthy and he, his wife, and baby Shannon will thrive in a happy life. There are other stories just in this off season of signing players who have been injured. Hopefully they will he healthy and the amazing medical staff and trainers that are in the Lightning organization can help them reach their potential. Every player has the potential to be injured. Marc-Andre Bergeron endured back surgery. He is reported healthy, and if they have a training camp, he is supposed to be able to play. Dana Tyrell is another case of always having a hurt knee. He’s had surgery on that knee and is reportedly doing great. I love Dana, and I pray that he’s good to go and stays healthy. I won’t even get started on Vinny Lecavalier and Mattias Ohlund. Nothing against them as a person, as they both have great personalities and are extremely nice to the fans. They are wonderful fathers, husbands, and people. Both also have ridiculous extended contracts … shutting up now.
Sorry, sometimes my A.D.D. comes out in my writing! Back to Nikita Kucherov. Nikita played in 18 games with CSKA Moscow of the KHL last season. In those games he scored a goal and racked up 5 points. He also played in 23 games with CSKA’s junior team (MHL), registering 24 goals and 43 points. Now THAT’S something to consider. This guy healthy could really help the team. Those are numbers that impress me. He recorded 2 goals and 7 points in the 2012 World Junior Championships, representing his native Russia. He was named the best forward at the 2011 U-18 World Championships after leading the tournament with 11 goals and 21 points in seven games. He was ranked 4th on the team for points an assists with 5.