Sunday, June 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning Nuts & Bolts: Kucherov hopes to be reunited with a friend

Short shift w/ LW Joel Vermin

You play any other sports growing up in Switzerland? I always played soccer. Until I was 10, 11, then it was too much with hockey.

What's your favorite music? Before games I listen to dance and house music, but I listen to everything, R&B, hip-hop, rock.

Top movie? I really like Avatar.

Must-TiVo TV show? Big Bang Theory

Prized memorabilia? The puck from my first career point (an assist Nov. 19 versus the Rangers)

NHL idol as a kid? Joe Sakic. He was a superstar.

What was it like playing for former Lightning coach Guy Boucher for Bern in Switzerland? I was only there for a month, but I liked his ideas, a simple game, everything fit together. You don't have to think too much. He knows what he wants. In Bern, they really liked him. (Boucher was fired this month.)

The next Nikita

RW Nikita Kucherov (above) and good friend Nikita Gusev grew up playing together in Moscow with the same goal: to reach the NHL.

"It was our dream to be here," Kucherov, 22, said. "Now I'm here, I just want him to be here, too. It'll be nice to see him in a couple years, next year."

Gusev, 23, the Lightning's seventh-round draft pick in 2012, is playing in Russia for SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL. Gusev, a 5-foot-9 wing, has 10 goals and 11 assists in 31 games split between St. Petersburg and Khanty-Mansiyk. Kucherov believes Gusev has the talent to play in the NHL.

"He will play here," Kucherov said. "He likes to carry the puck; he likes to make plays. He's got a good shot. The vision he has, it's something that … not that (many) players have. He's a big player."

The two talk often, with Kucherov's positive experience acclimating to life, and hockey, in North America likely a good example for Gusev. Kucherov scored 29 goals last season. He had six this season entering Saturday's game with the Islanders. Gusev, under contract in the KHL, would have to be signed to an entry-level deal with Tampa Bay and come to the United States.

"He needs a little time to adjust to hockey (here)," Kucherov said. "The first thing he needs to do is come here. All the other stuff will take care of itself."

From the fans

What's the difference between American and Canadian Thanksgiving?

D Braydon Coburn from Saskatchewan: I always felt like Christmas was a bigger deal in Canada and Thanksgiving is a bigger deal here. Same food — turkey, stuffing. It's in October (in Canada). I don't know if it coincides with the start of the shopping season, Black Friday, but I feel like people make a bigger deal out of Thanksgiving here.

Have a question for a Lightning player? Send it to beat writer Joe Smith on Twitter at @TBTimes_JSmith or email [email protected] We'll answer one every Sunday.

 
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