Nikita Kucherov has signed a new three-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning after missing training camp in a contract dispute. The deal is worth $14.3 million and carries a cap hit of $4.766 million per season. Kucherov lead the Lightning in points last year with 30 goals, 36 assists for 66 points, finishing ahead of captain Steven Stamkos. The signing leaves the Lightning with approximately $780,000 in cap space.
The Lightning have re-signed forward Nikita Kucherov to a 3-year contract worth an average of $4.7666 million per season. – from team
— Erik Erlendsson (@Erik_Erlendsson) October 11, 2016
Kucherov Re-Signs With Tampa Bay Lightning
While the Lightning successfully got all their players under contract this year they will have tough choices next off-season. Tyler Johnson will need a raise from the $3.3 million he is currently making. Ondrej Palat will likely need a raise as will defenceman Andrej Sustr and Nikita Nesterov. The only cap relief in sight will be Ben Bishop who will likely won’t be re-signed allowing Andrei Vasilevskiy to take the reigns.
Missing Camp Not An Issue
In most years missing training camp would lead to a slow start for a restricted free agent who sits out of camp. However, Kucherov represented Russia in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey leaving him in game shape. Kucherov was impressive for a team that fell shorter than expectations scoring two goals and one assist in four games. Russia was eliminated by Canada in the semi-final game.
With Kucherov under contract and Steven Stamkos returning the Lightning will continue to be favorites to represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Final. Kucherov will be expected to continue playing on a line with Tyler Johnson that will give the Lightning two dominant lines of offense. With the fire power that the Lightning have under contract, they will be a difficult team to defend against.
Other RFA’s Still Out There
Now that Johnny Gaudreau and Nikita Kucherov are under contract only four restricted free agents remain unsigned. The Anaheim Ducks have the most potentially the most pressing free agents to get under contract. Rickard Rakell and Hampus Lindholm both remain without a contract and while the Ducks do have cap space they are limited by an internal cap imposed by their owners. The Buffalo Sabres have yet to come to terms with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. Finally, the Winnipeg Jets are the furthest away from signing their restricted free agent defenceman Jacob Trouba who has asked for a trade.