Nikita Kucherov signs 8-year extension with Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning signed forward Nikita Kucherov to an eight-year contract extension with an annual cap hit of $9.5 million, the team announced Tuesday.

.Kucherov, 25, is coming off a career year in which he finished third in the NHL with 100 points, compiling 39 goals and 61 assists. The two-time All-Star is on the last year of his bridge deal and was set to become a restricted free agent after next season, so roughly $4.7 million will remain his cap hit for the upcoming campaign. The $76-million extension will take effect in 2019-20.

“I’m truly grateful to sign this contract extension to keep me in Tampa for another eight seasons,” Kucherov said in a statement. “I’d like to thank the Lightning organization and all of the fans for the support since making the Bay Area my home.”

Nikita Kucherov has collected 138-178—316 over the past four seasons (313 GP), ranking among the top five in both goals and points in the NHL during that span. #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/451Sz0INCy

— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) July 10, 2018

Tampa Bay now has Kucherov, captain Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman,  Alex Killorn,  Ondrej Palat,  J.T. Miller,  Tyler Johnson and Ryan McDonagh all signed through at least the 2021-22 season. That is a damn good core of players to have under contract.

This important extension of one of the best wingers in the sport will take the Tampa Bay Lightning out of the Erik Karlsson sweepstakes either.

Adding a player like  Erik Karlsson to this mix would certainly be scary for everyone in the NHL. Regardless, Tampa Bay must be considered a Stanley Cup contender. When making any fantasy hockey decisions, these Lightning players must top your lists.