The start of the NHL season is prediction time. They tend to revolve around who will make the playoffs and how deep they will go. Some pertain to individual awards.
What are the predictions for Nikita Kucherov this season? His wizardry maneuvers have been talked about as deceptive, so what does he have up his sleeve, or in his stick, for this season?
Can he repeat 2019, winning the Art Ross Trophy? With Connor McDavid the annual favorite these days for the Hart and the Ted Lindsay awards, can he be the one to outmaneuver “McJesus” (McDavid’s nickname)?
Within just a few years from when Kuch became a full-time roster player, he became an elite one who produces more than a point per game in the regular season. This doesn’t take into account his production in the playoffs. He not only holds the record for the most playoff points for the franchise, he is one of six players to record three points a game in 20 playoff games, joining the likes of Wayne Gretzky.
In 2019, he recorded the most points by a Russian-born player with 128 and he holds the Lightning single-season franchise record.
His work ethic, perfectionism, competitiveness, and hockey IQ are well known. He continuously studies the game and other players. And he holds himself to the highest standards. See Erik’s article about Kucherov’s artistry from April 10, 2019.
The man has synthetic ice installed in his garage in Tampa! Because the Lightning were eliminated in the first round this past season, the team had the opportunity for much-needed rest. But Kuch’s quest for being the best does not allow him to sit still for long. It has been rumored that he was back on the ice very early this past summer.
This brings us back to the prediction question: How high will he fly? He is a self-professed “passer” but scored two goals (one empty netter) in the home opener on October 10th. So, how many goals this season? How many assists? Any awards predicted?
And can Phil Esposito yell loud enough from the broadcast booth to get him to shoot the puck more often?!
Maybe this is the year we see 50 goals from the 30-year-old Nikita Kucherov. Since his first full season, 2014-15, as one of the famed Triplets lined (nicknamed line with linemates Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson), he has scored 20-or-more goals. This does not count the season that was shortened by COVID when he then missed the regular season due to hip surgery. He has four seasons of 30-or-more goals and 40-or-more goals in two seasons.
If he is healthy, why can’t he score 50 goals this year? He’s over two years from hip surgery, he’s had a long offseason, and he has the fire in his belly to win. So, what are your predictions for Nikita Kucherov for this season? Whatever it is, he probably won’t think it’s enough.
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