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BIO

Nikita Igorevich Kucherov (Russian: Никита Игоревич Кучеров) is a Russian professional ice hockey right winger currently playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League (NHL).


Tampa Bay Lightning
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).

During the 2013–14 season, on 25 November 2013, with his first shot, on his first shift, against Henrik Lundqvistof 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 NHL 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 plus-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 2nd 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 via the power play. Kucherov's hat trick propelled him past Ryan Malone (92) for 9th 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 8th most goals all-time in franchise history. On March 18, 2017, Kucherov recorded his 100th career NHL goal. On March 23, 2017, Kucherov also recorded his second hat trick in less than a month apart from his first in the 2016-2017 season. This also became his third hat trick in his NHL career. On March 27, 2017, Kucherov had two assists which set a Lightning record for points in a single month with 22. On April 7, 2017, Kucherov scored his 40th goal of the season, setting a new career high. With his 40th goal, Kucherov joined Steven StamkosVincent LecavalierMartin St. Louis, and Brian Bradleyas the only players in Lightning history with 40-goal seasons. Additionally, Kucherov joined Alexander OvechkinEvgeni MalkinIlya KovalchukPavel Bure, and Alexander Mogilny as the only Russian-born players with a 40-goal season at age 23 or younger. On June 21, 2017, Kucherov was named a NHL Second Team All-Star for the 2016-17 season.

On October 12, 2017, Kucherov recorded his 112th goal in a Lightning uniform. This goal moved Kucherov past Brian Bradley for 7th 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 October 16, 2017, Kucherov recorded two more goals, which extended the streak to six games. In doing so, Kucherov joined Mario LemieuxKeith 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 October 26, 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 October 30, 2017, Kucherov recorded two points in a 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 November 8, 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 9th most points in franchise history. By November 10, 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.

International play

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 NesterovVladislav Namestnikov, and Andrei Vasilevskiy. The tournament took place from 17 Sep to 1 October 2016, in Toronto.

On April 9, 2017, the Russian Ice Hockey Federation named Kucherov to its roster for the 2017 World Ice Hockey Championships. Kucherov was joined by teammates Andrei Vasilevskiy and Vladislav Namestnikov. On May 21, 2017, Kucherov helped Russia capture a bronze medal when they defeated Finland in the bronze medal game.