Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

'Constant communication' between Lightning, unsigned Kucherov

Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) battles with Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy (12) in the third period in game four of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. on Friday, May 20, 2016.


Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) battles with Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy (12) in the third period in game four of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. on Friday, May 20, 2016.

TAMPA — Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he's in "constant communication" with RW Nikita Kucherov's representatives and hopes to get the wing signed "as soon as possible."

But though the goal is to get Kucherov, a restricted free agent, signed by the time he returns from the World Cup of Hockey, Yzerman indicated Thursday "that may or may not happen right away."

Kucherov, 23, led the Lightning in points last season and in the playoffs. Playing in the World Cup for Russia — which advanced to the weekend's semifinals — it's unknown if Kucherov would report to training camp without a deal. But Yzerman said he didn't anticipate the situation being a distraction for the team.

"We want him here," Yzerman said. "He's a tremendous player, a popular player on the team. Being young (23), he's still one of our leaders on our team. We want to get him here as soon as possible. It takes time."

Wing Ryan Callahan said Kucherov's emergence over the past two seasons makes him vital part of the team.

"He's one of the main reasons why we had two really good years here," Callahan said. "There's no hiding the fact he's a really important piece."

Yzerman said he also hoped to get a deal done with the other remaining restricted free agent, D Nikita Nesterov, who also is with Russia at the World Cup.

CALLAHAN UPDATE: Callahan (hip surgery) said he's progressing well and "on schedule" for a mid-November return. Yzerman said Callahan is not cleared for contact, the only regular not ready to go "full bore" in Friday's first practice. It's unclear how much participation Callahan will have early in camp.

"On schedule right now," Callahan said. "(The expected return is) kind of far away, so you never know if things can speed up quicker than that, but as of right now, it's still November."

FAN FEST SUNDAY: There is no admission for Fan Fest on Sunday at Amalie Arena, though fans must register for a ticket at Here is the schedule:

9 a.m.: Doors open for season-ticket holders, who can watch practice from 10:30-11.

11: Doors open to the general public.

11:15-11:45: Lightning scrimmage

11:45-noon: Owner Jeff Vinik interview session.

Noon-12:30 p.m.: Lightning scrimmage, followed by High School Hockey Shootout

Noon-1:30 p.m.: Players at autograph/selfie stations. Autographs are free, but fans need a voucher they can pick up at Gate B. One voucher per person.

NUTS AND BOLTS: Yzerman said forward prospects Mathieu Joseph and Jonne Tammela — who didn't participate in the rookie tournament last weekend — were scheduled to be evaluated by doctors Thursday morning to determine their availability for camp. … D David Henley has a thumb hand injury.

Times staff Writer Roger Mooney contributed to this report.


A mirrored wall catches the reflection of Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn as he hits the weights during the traditional fitness testing on the first day of training camp at Amalie Arena.

'Constant communication' between Lightning, unsigned Kucherov 09/22/16 [Last modified: Thursday, September 22, 2016 9:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Yellow cards stall Rowdies offense in tie with St. Louis


    ST. PETERSBURG — It's not the result they wanted, but it certainly could have been worse. Neill Collins' 87th-minute header off a corner kick was the reward the Rowdies settled for Saturday night during a 1-1 draw with St. Louis before an announced 6,068 at Al Lang Stadium.

  2. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title


    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  3. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”
  4. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. laughing right along after comical dive

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Souza being Souza.

    That seemed to be the best way to describe the entertaining — and comically bad — dive Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. attempted in Friday's game, and the good humor he showed in handling the fallout, including a standing ovation his next at-bat from the …

  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Twins game

    The Heater

    RHP Jake Odorizzi had to battle without his best stuff again, which is becoming a more common occurrence, leading to long at-bats — including 13 pitches to Kennys Vargas in the fifth — and running up his pitch count to 118 without finishing the sixth.