Thursday, December 14, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

'Constant communication' between Lightning, unsigned Kucherov

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 tampabaylightning.com. 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.

DIRK SHADD | Times

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.

Comments
Andrei Vasilevskiy’s dreams are coming true

Andrei Vasilevskiy’s dreams are coming true

GLENDALE, Ariz — Nikita Kucherov’s toughest challenge isn’t facing Canadiens goalie Carey Price, or Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky.It comes in practice against Andrei Vasilevskiy. "I’ve been saying, I thought he was going to be the top goalie in the leag...
Published: 12/13/17
Switch to wing helps Lightning’s Tyler Johnson

Switch to wing helps Lightning’s Tyler Johnson

ST. LOUIS — Tyler Johnson hasn’t played very much wing in his career, primarily sticking to his natural center position. But lately, Johnson has been stellar on the right side.Johnson’s assist in Tuesday’s win over the Blues extended his point streak...
Published: 12/13/17
Lightning opens road trip with shutout of Blues

Lightning opens road trip with shutout of Blues

ST. LOUIS — This showdown was supposed to be about the best team in the East versus the best in the West. In reality, the Lightning’s 3-0 win over the Blues on Tuesday night pretty much came down to this:Andrei Vasilevskiy is one of the best goalies ...
Published: 12/12/17

Joe Smith’s takeaways from Lightning-Blues

Andrei Vasilevskiy might have made the save of the year. With the Lightning leading by one midway through the second, an Alex Steen dump-in took a wild carom off the boards. Vasilevskiiy somehow sprawled out for a right-toe save. Then, on his back, V...
Published: 12/12/17
Lightning face Blues in showdown between NHL’s top two teams

Lightning face Blues in showdown between NHL’s top two teams

The Lightning's west coast trip will start with a bang tonight in St. Louis.Tonight's game will pit the top two teams in the NHL, with Tampa Bay (21-6-2) atop the Eastern Conference, the Blues (21-8-2) the No. 1 team in the West.Fittingly, an NBCSN-a...
Published: 12/12/17
How Lightning coach Jon Cooper reinvented himself

How Lightning coach Jon Cooper reinvented himself

BRANDON — The best team in town had just wrapped up practice. The Lightning had a plane to catch, to St. Louis, where Tuesday in St. Louis begins a four-city road trip that ends at expansion Las Vegas, exclusive engagement, one show a night, unless y...
Published: 12/11/17
All boxes checked on Lightning home stand sweep; now, back to the road

All boxes checked on Lightning home stand sweep; now, back to the road

TAMPA — You don’t often see a coach making shadow puppets on the wall with his hands at the start of his postgame news conference, but that’s where the Lightning is these days after sweeping a four-game home stand with Saturday night’s 4-3 overtime v...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated game story: Lightning’s Brayden Point credits luck, opportunity for OT winner vs. Jets

Updated game story: Lightning’s Brayden Point credits luck, opportunity for OT winner vs. Jets

TAMPA — His coach says he plays every game as if he doesn’t play his best, he’s going to be sent down. That is not the case with Brayden Point, but who doesn’t want that kind of effort from a second-year player who has more than established himself i...
Published: 12/09/17

Brayden Point scores in OT to give Lightning win over Jets

TAMPA — The Jets saw Saturday’s game against the Lightning as a benchmark game, a way to measure themselves against the NHL’s top team. The Lightning had circled the game, the last of a four-game home stand."It’s going to be a big test for us," Light...
Published: 12/09/17
Lightning journal: Power-play players make me look good, Jon Cooper says

Lightning journal: Power-play players make me look good, Jon Cooper says

TAMPA — How about that Lightning power play."Coaching," coach Jon Cooper said before Saturday’s game with the Jets.He was kidding."You always look like a good coach when you can throw (Nikita) Kucherov and (Steven) Stamkos and (Victor) Hedman over th...
Published: 12/09/17