Make us your home page
Instagram

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Kucherov happy to be signed, back with Lightning

Nikita Kucherov, who scored 30 goals and had 66 points last season, Tuesday signed a three-year deal worth $4.76 million annually, adding the final piece to what the Lightning believes will be a championship puzzle. DIRK SHADD   |   Times  


Nikita Kucherov, who scored 30 goals and had 66 points last season, Tuesday signed a three-year deal worth $4.76 million annually, adding the final piece to what the Lightning believes will be a championship puzzle. DIRK SHADD | Times

BRANDON — RW Nikita Kucherov returned to his native Russia after competing for his country in the World Cup of Hockey last month and tried not to worry about his immediate future.

Kucherov said he trained hard and let his agent handle his contract negotiations with the Lightning over his restricted free agency. If he was worried about missing tonight's regular-season opener or an extended period, he did not let on Wednesday while addressing the media after practice.

"Obviously, you don't want to miss any games," he said. "It's tough to sit home and see the guys going through training camp and you are not there. I'm happy to be here and happy to be with my teammates."

Kucherov, who scored 30 goals and had 66 points last season, Tuesday signed a three-year deal worth $4.76 million annually, adding the final piece to what the Lightning believes will be a championship puzzle.

"He's a big part of our team, let's make no mistake about that," coach Jon Cooper said, "and to see him zipping around out there, it's gratifying because you want to put your best foot forward, especially early in the season."

Related: Nikita Kucherov signs three-year deal with Lightning.

Kucherov, 23, is ready to start the season despite missing all but the final practice of training camp because of the World Cup and his holdout. He didn't want to talk about his contract or why he took a shorter deal than he had wanted, other than to say he believed a shorter deal was his best option. He said there was never a point when he thought he would end up with another team.

"I'm just happy to be here and happy that the whole situation with the contract has been resolved," he said, "and I'm back with my teammates getting ready to win the Stanley Cup."

MAKING HIS POINT: Rookie RW Brayden Point was expected to be sent to AHL Syracuse once Kucherov signed so he could get more seasoning by playing on one of the Crunch's top two lines. Instead, the Lightning decided to keep him.

"We're not handing out roster spots for free," Cooper said. "The guys earn them, and Brayden Point was really close to earning one last year, and he most definitely earned one this year."

Cooper said Point's work ethic is "impeccable" and he has good hockey sense.

"He's just got to learn the pro game, and there's going to be some bumps along the road," Cooper said. "It's not easy."

Point, 20, practiced with the third line and will get time on the power play.

"(I'm) obviously excited," Point said. "Getting a chance to play (in camp) was awesome, but now it's another step up from the preseason, so I just got to work that much harder."

Point said his parents, Janice and Grant, and brother Kade, 13, would be at tonight's game against the Red Wings. "I'll get to share it with them," he said. "It's going to be pretty exciting."

NUTS AND BOLTS: Cooper said he hopes RW Ryan Callahan (hip surgery), who is expected to return in mid November, returns closer to Nov. 1. … Here are the Lightning lines: Ondrej Palat, Steven Stamkos, Jonathan Drouin; Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson, Kucherov; Vladislav Namestnikov, Valtteri Filppula, Point; Brian Boyle, Cedric Paquette, J.T. Brown. The defense pairings: Victor Hedman-Anton Stralman; Jason Garrison-Andrej Sustr; Slater Koekkoek/Nikita Nesterov-Braydon Coburn.

Kucherov happy to be signed, back with Lightning 10/12/16 [Last modified: Thursday, October 13, 2016 7:37am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Former Rays/current Cubs manager Joe Maddon featured on NBC Sunday news show

    Blogs

    Former Rays and current Cubs manager Joe Maddon will be featured on this week's "Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly" show at 7 p.m. on NBC, the Harry Smith interview covering not just Maddon's on-field accomplishments but his extensive efforts to help his hometown of Hazleton, Pa.

    "Here's what's so …

    Joe Maddon talking with NBC News' Harry Smith.
  2. For starters: Souza returns to lineup

    Blogs

     

  3. Ronde Barber: Want intimidation? Look at past Bucs teams

    Bucs

    Ronde Barber says these days "it's hard to find throwbacks, where you go, 'That guy is a badass.' Where do you find that now? It's such a show-off sport." (Times 2012)
  4. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.