Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Lightning Sign Kucherov to Three-Year Deal

The Tampa Bay Lightning took a big step towards remaining a cup contender when they locked up 23-year-old winger (and playoff sensation) Nikita Kucherov to a three-year deal that is just shy of $14.3 million.

Kucherov lead the team with 66 points in the regular season and 19 in the playoffs. It comes as a slight surprise that the Moscow native didn't hold out for a longer term or more money. Most felt that Kucherov was in line for about $6 million for six years, but Lightning GM Steve Yzerman seems to be riding the hot hand in Tampa at the moment, as he also got Victor Hedman and Steve Stamkos to sign for less than expected (though both got long-term deals).

Kucherov's logic is that the shorter term gives him a chance to earn more when his contract is up, but still, less than $5 million a year seems a little low for a player of his caliber. His situation also isn't helped by the fact that he's a restricted free agent with very few options other than holding out.

Kucherov's salary will increase in each of the next three seasons (according to General Fanager), from $4.25 million this year, to $4.5 million next season, to $5.5 million in 2018-19. When the deal expires, the Moscow native will still be a RFA.