Tampa Bay Lightning: 50 Greatest Moments In Franchise History

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Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

44. Tampa Bay Lightning Drafts Nikita Kucherov

Date: June 2011

Nikita Kucherov was selected with the 58th overall pick in the second round of the 2011 NHL Draft. High on skill and talent, Kucherov was passed by many teams due to the dreaded “Russian Factor” where players could stay and play in the Kontinental Hockey League.

Not to mention the issue scouts had with his play his the defensive third. Seen as a player that would never develop a complete two-way game, teams again went against drafting the talented Russian.

The Lightning took a chance on Kucherov and in September on 2012 the team inked a 3-year entry level contract with the Russian star, and later helped him with the move to North America.

Kucherov played with the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He later played for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and scored 53 points in 27 games in his one season with the team before making the transition to the teams AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch.

He wasn’t there long, as the injuries kept piling up at the NHL level, and the team called up Kucherov. Since then, Kucherov has impressed in all three zones, and has become one of the leagues brightest young stars since he began playing in Tampa Bay.

The 21 year old Kucherov is one piece of the “Triplet” line that has been one of the most feared lines in the NHL. His ability to pass to his line mates while also finishing is own opportunities makes him one of the more feared players on the ice.

The sky is the limit for Kucherov, and the rest of the NHL will have to deal with him for the next several years. Oh, and lets not forget about all the nightmares he is giving scouts knowing they passed on one of the most talented young players in the NHL.

Next: The Lightning Make A League First Happen