Nikita Igorevich Kucherov (Russian: Никита Игоревич Кучеров; born 17 June 1993) is a Russian professional ice hockey right winger for the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League (NHL). For his performance during the 2018–19 NHL season, Kucherov won the Art Ross Trophy as the league's leading scorer, the Ted Lindsay Award as the best player voted by fellow NHL players, and the Hart Memorial Trophy as the most valuable player to his team.
Kucherov originally played professionally in his native Russia, for CSKA Moscow, of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). In the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, he was selected 58th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning. In an attempt to transition to the North American style, Kucherov played major junior hockey with Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). He signed a three-year entry level contract with the Lightning on 10 September 2012 while playing in the QMJHL.
Tampa Bay Lightning
During the 2013–14 season, on 25 November 2013, with his first shot, on his first shift, against Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers, Kucherov became the seventh player in Lightning history to score a goal in his NHL debut. On 28 October 2014, he recorded his first career hat trick against Mike Smith of the Arizona Coyotes.
During the 2014–15 season, Kucherov had a breakout season with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Kucherov posted 29 goals, 36 assists, and 65 points. Kucherov also tied for the NHL lead in plus-minus with Max Pacioretty at a +38 rating. The +38 rating also set the Lightning single season franchise record for +/- rating. On 20 May 2015, Kucherov joined Martin St. Louis as the only players in Lightning history to record two game winning goals in overtime in a single playoff year, having scored a winner that evening against the New York Rangers; he had scored one in Game 1 of the prior round against the Montreal Canadiens.
On 11 October 2016, the Lightning re-signed Kucherov to a three-year contract worth an average of $4.766 million per season. Last season, Kucherov led the team in points (66) and was second in assists (36) and goals (30). Kucherov also set a career high in goals, points, power-play goals (9) and game-winning goals (4). He also ranked second on the team in shots (209) and power-play goals, while also leading the team with 19 multi-point games. He also skated in 17 Stanley Cup playoff games with the Lightning last season, scoring 11 goals and 19 points to go along with a +13 rating. He led the team during the playoffs in goals and points. He also finished second for goals and sixth for points in playoff scoring.
On 10 January 2017, Kucherov was named to the 2017 NHL All-Star game as a member of the Atlantic Division team. On 12 January 2017, Kucherov scored his 85th goal in a Lightning uniform, which moved him past Rob Zamuner (84) for 10th-most goals in franchise history. On 21 February 2017, Kucherov recorded his 200th career NHL point. On 27 February 2017, Kucherov recorded his second career hat-trick, which was the 10th natural hat-trick in Lightning history. It was also the first ever in team history to have all three goals scored during the power plays. Kucherov's hat trick propelled him past Ryan Malone (92) for ninth-most goals in Lightning history. On 11 March 2017, Kucherov recorded his 99th career goal in a Lightning uniform. This moved him past Chris Gratton (98) for eighth-most goals all-time in franchise history. On 18 March 2017, Kucherov recorded his 100th career NHL goal. On 23 March 2017, Kucherov also recorded his second hat trick in less than a month apart from his first in the 2016–17 season. This also became his third hat trick in his NHL career. On 27 March 2017, Kucherov had two assists which set a Lightning record for points in a single month with 22. On 7 April 2017, Kucherov scored his 40th goal of the season, setting a new career high. With his 40th goal, Kucherov joined Steven Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, and Brian Bradley as the only players in Lightning history with 40-goal seasons. Additionally, Kucherov joined Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Bure, and Alexander Mogilny as the only Russian-born players with a 40-goal season at age 23 or younger. On 21 June 2017, Kucherov was named a NHL Second Team All-Star for the 2016–17 season.
On 12 October 2017, Kucherov recorded his 112th goal in a Lightning uniform. This goal moved Kucherov past Brian Bradley for seventh-most goals in franchise history. That same night, Kucherov also became the first player in franchise history to record a goal in five consecutive games to start a season. On 16 October 2017, Kucherov recorded two more goals, which extended the streak to six games. In doing so, Kucherov joined Mario Lemieux, Keith Tkachuk, and Steve Yzerman as the only players in the last 30-years to score a goal in each of their first six games. On the very next night, Kucherov extended his goal scoring streak to seven games. In doing so, Kucherov became the sixth player in the modern era (since 1943−1944) to score in each of their team's first seven games. Kucherov's goal scoring streak was ended the following game. On 26 October 2017, Kucherov recorded a point in his 11th consecutive game to start the season. In doing so, Kucherov tied Martin St. Louis for the longest season-opening point streak in Lightning history. Kucherov's streak was ended the following game. On 30 October 2017, Kucherov recorded two points in an 8–5 Lightning win over the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center. The two points moved Kucherov past Dan Boyle for 10th-most points in Lightning history. On 8 November 2017, Kucherov recorded three assists in a 5–1 Lightning victory over the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center. The three assists moved Kucherov past Chris Gratton (259) for ninth-most points in franchise history. By 10 November, he had a three-goal lead over Alex Ovechkin for the top spot in the NHL and one of the best starts in goal-scoring is concerned in recent league history.
On 10 December 2017, Kucherov recorded his 128th career goal in a Lightning uniform. The goal moved him past Václav Prospal for sixth all-time in Lightning history. On 31 December 2017, Kucherov recorded a goal and an assist in a 5–0 Lightning win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. His two-point game moved him past Fredrik Modin (286) for ninth-most points in Lightning history. On 10 January 2018, Kucherov was named to the 2018 NHL All-Star Game, which was played at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. On 8 February 2018, Kucherov recorded a three-point night in a 5-2 Lightning victory over the visiting Vancouver Canucks. Kucherov moved past Brian Bradley for seventh-most points in franchise history. On 13 February, Kucherov recorded two assists, which moved him past Ondrej Palat for 10th-most assists in franchise history. On 17 February, Kucherov recorded his 172nd career assist, which moved him past Pavel Kubina for ninth-most assists in Lightning history. On 26 March, Kucherov recorded his 146th career goal to surpass Fredrik Modin for fifth-most goals in franchise history. On 18 April, Kucherov recorded two goals, which moved him past Lecavalier for second-most playoff goals in franchise history. On 22 April 2018, Kucherov recorded a goal in a 3–1 Lightning series clinching over the New Jersey Devils. The goal was his 10th point of the series, which established a new franchise record for most points in a single series.
On 10 July 2018, Kucherov signed a eight-year, $76 million contract extension with the Lightning. On 18 October 2018, Kucherov recorded his 190th career NHL assist in a 3–1 Lightning victory over the visiting Detroit Red Wings. The assist moved Kucherov past Brian Bradley for seventh-most in franchise history. On 1 December, Kucherov had a three-point night against the Florida Panthers to give him 372 career NHL points. This moved Kucherov past Václav Prospal for sixth-most points in Lightning history. In the month of December 2018, Kucherov set the franchise record for most assists (21) and points (30) in a single calendar month. On 2 January 2019, Kucherov was named to the 2019 National Hockey League All-Star Game. This was Kucherov's third consecutive selection to the All-Star Game. On 2 February 2019, Kucherov recorded his 245th career NHL assist in a 3–2 Lightning victory over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The assist moved Kucherov past Václav Prospal for sixth most assists in franchise history. On 18 February 2019, Kucherov recorded a 5-point night in a 5–1 Lightning win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. Three of his five points came as assist which gave Kucherov the Lightning single season record for assists (70), breaking the mark of 68, by Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis.
On 9 March 2019, Kucherov set the Lightning single season record for points in a season with his 109th point of year. The point came in a 3–2 Lightning win over the Detroit Red Wings at Amalie Arena. On 16 March 2019, Kucherov recorded his 81st and 82nd assist to move past Guy Lafleur for the fourth most assists by a winger in a single season in NHL history. On 20 March 2019, Kucherov recorded two power-play goals to give him the most power-play points by a Lightning player in a single season (47). Kucherov scored his 40th goal of the season on 5 April 2019 and recorded his 126th point, setting the record for most points in an NHL season during the salary cap era, a record previously held by Joe Thornton. At the conclusion of the regular season, Kucherov had amassed 128 points (41 goals and 87 assists), surpassing Alexander Mogilny for most points in the NHL by a Russian-born player. Kucherov's 87 assists also tied Jaromir Jagr for the most assists in a single NHL season by a wing. Having amassed the most points for the regular season Kucherov was awarded the Art Ross Trophy. On 12 April 2019, following the Lightning's game one loss in the first round of the playoffs against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Kucherov was suspended one game for boarding Markus Nutivaara during the team's game two loss. On 19 June 2019, Kucherov was awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award as league MVP at the 2019 NHL Awards.
On 2 March 2016, the Russian Ice Hockey Federation named Kucherov to its roster for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Kucherov was joined by Lightning teammates Nikita Nesterov, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Andrei Vasilevskiy. The tournament took place from 17 Sep to 1 October 2016, in Toronto.
On 9 April 2017, the Russian Ice Hockey Federation named Kucherov to its roster for the 2017 Ice Hockey World Championships. Kucherov was joined by teammates Andrei Vasilevskiy and Vladislav Namestnikov. On 21 May 2017, Kucherov helped Russia capture a bronze medal when they defeated Finland in the bronze medal game.
Regular season and playoffs
|2013–14||Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||52||9||9||18||14||2||1||0||1||0|
|2014–15||Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||82||29||36||65||37||26||10||12||22||14|
|2015–16||Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||77||30||36||66||30||17||11||8||19||8|
|2016–17||Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||74||40||45||85||38||—||—||—||—||—|
|2017–18||Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||80||39||61||100||42||17||7||10||17||10|
|2018–19||Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||82||41||87||128||62||3||0||2||2||19|
Awards and honors
|NHL All-Star Game||2017, 2018, 2019|
|NHL Second All-Star Team||2017|
|NHL First All-Star Team||2018, 2019|
|Art Ross Trophy||2019|
|Ted Lindsay Award||2019|
|Hart Memorial Trophy||2019|
|U18 First Team All-Star||2011|
- Most assists in a single season by a wing in NHL history, 87 (2018–19)
- Most points in a single season by a Russian-born player, 128 (2018–19)
- Most assists in a single season by a Tampa Bay Lightning player, 87 (2018–19)
- Most points in a single season by a Tampa Bay Lightning player, 128 (2018–19)
- Most points in a single calendar month by a Tampa Bay Lightning player, 30 (2018–19)
- Most assists in a single calendar month by a Tampa Bay Lightning player, 21 (2018–19)
- Most consecutive games with a point to start a season by a Tampa Bay Lightning player, 11 (2017–18)
- Most consecutive games with a goal to start a season by a Tampa Bay Lightning player, 7 (2017–18)