The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed star forward Nikita Kucherov to a three-year bridge deal that carries an average annual value of $4.766 million.
The deal comes one day before the start of the NHL regular season.
“It’s nice to be here,” Kucherov said, who recently arrived in Tampa Bay after traveling to Russia after the World Cup of Hockey. “I’m happy.”
Kucherov is coming off the best season of his NHL career. The 23-year-old recorded 30 goals and 66 points in 77 regular-season games, leading the team in points and power-play points and finishing second in goals and assists. He set career highs in goals, points and power-play points. He added 11 goals and 19 points in 17 postseason games.
This is a phenomenal signing for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
General manager Steve Yzerman has done a masterful job keeping this team together for another run at the Cup. Kucherov’s lack of contract has been an ongoing concern all offseason considering how valuable he is to this team. Signing someone of Kucherov’s caliber to such a low cap hit, even if it’s only for three seasons, is an absolute steal.
Many Lightning players signed long-term, lucrative deals this offseason, including Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Alex Killorn. But the team simply did not have the kind of money Kucherov was seeking or would have deserved on a long-term deal. This bridge deal works for both sides and keeps Tampa Bay’s high-octane offense completely intact for at least one more season.
Kucherov has 68 goals and 149 points in 211 career regular-season games spanning three seasons, as well as 22 goals and 42 points in 45 career playoff games, all with Tampa Bay.
The Lightning take on the Detroit Red Wings in the team’s season and home opener Thursday night.
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