Nikita Kucherov will be making his North American debut this season while playing for the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL. The Russian forward just got incentive to stick around in North America, that being a standard 3-year entry level contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning. T he club announced the signing this evening.
The 19-year-old Kucherov was selected 58th overall in the 2011 NHL draft, and was selected by the Remparts in the CHL import draft - paving his way to make a North American debut.
The right wing has spent time playing in the Russian junior leagues as well as playing among the pros in the Kontinental Hockey League. He was part of Team Russia's World Junior Championship team in 2011 and 2012, putting up 21 points in seven games in 2011 and 7 points in 7 games the following year.
It's easy to speculate that Kucherov could have been invited to the Botls preseason rookie camp if it had indeed taken place in South Florida this year. Alas, the camp and tournament was scratched with thanks to the labor uncertainty of the moment. Yet, this allows Nikita to focus on the task at hand -- the QMJHL and the trials set before him in adjusting to that game.
A video clip from YouTube and the full press release from the Lightning is below.
LIGHTNING SIGN 2011 SECOND-ROUND PICK NIKITA KUCHEROV
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed right wing Nikita Kucherov to a three-year, entry-level contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Kucherov, 5-foot-11, 174 pounds, is currently playing with the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League after he was taken in the 2012 CHL Import Draft. He has yet to appear in a game with the Remparts due to off-season shoulder surgery that also kept him off the ice for the Lightning’s 2012 Development Camp.
A native of Moscow, Russia, Kucherov played in 18 games with CSKA Moscow of the KHL last season, recording a goal and five points. He also played in 23 games with CSKA’s junior team (MHL), registering 24 goals and 43 points. Kucherov also represented his native Russia at the 2012 World Junior Championships, recording two goals and seven points. He ranked fourth on the team for points and assists (5). Kucherov was also named the best forward at the 2011 U-18 World Championships after leading the tournament with 11 goals and 21 points in seven games.
He was selected by Tampa Bay in the second round, 58th overall, of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.