A report from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman announced that Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov may be sidelined for “awhile” with a hip injury. The hip issue was first reported by The Athletic and TSN’s Pierre LeBrun on Monday.
TB's cap issues may be solved by LTIR. There is word Nikita Kucherov is battling an injury that may keep him out awhile. No comment from team/agent, so details are sketchy — but clarity expected this week. If unable to play (unfortunately), it will clear room for the Lightning.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) December 21, 2020
Nikita Kucherov Out with Hip Problem
There’s no telling when Kucherov picked up the injury, but LeBrun states that the winger received a hip injection last week.
The Russian winger scored 33 goals and added 52 assists for 82 points in 65 games last season. His possession numbers were 56.1 percent Corsi and a relative Corsi of 6.0. The 27-year-old added 38 penalty minutes during the regular season.
Kucherov supplied seven goals and 27 assists for 34 points in 25 games between the round robin and Stanley Cup playoffs. He was a main candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy that was won by Victor Hedman.
Over his seven-year NHL career, Kucherov has played only for the Lightning. He has 221 goals and 326 assists for 547 career points in 515 career games. Tampa Bay drafted him in the second round, 58th overall of the 2011 NHL Draft.
Kucherov won the Hart Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award for most valuable player in 2018-19 season. He also got the Art Ross Trophy for the league’s top scorer with 41 goals and 128 points in that campaign.
What This Means for the Future
Tampa Bay will miss the production of the former multiple award winner that was a key cog in their Stanley Cup victory. The Maykop, Russia native picked up the slack big time while captain Steven Stamkos missed most the post-season.
However, the Russian’s injury could be a blessing in disguise as the Lightning are likely to place Kucherov on long-term injured reserve. This means Tampa could re-sign Anthony Cirelli and Erik Cernak to deals while Kucherov’s $9.5 million deal is off the books. James Mirtle of The Athletic also pointed out that there is no salary cap in the post-season if Kucherov is healthy enough to return.