It's hard to break a habit, but it looks like Steve Yzerman and the Tampa Bay Lightning have done so if the reports are true. The habit I speak of is the general slowness for the organization regarding player development; no matter how good a player plays in his first pro season, the team had left him alone to work on his game and excel. Proof to this track record exists with former Lightning prospect Cory Conacher and current Lightning center Tyler Johnson.
Perhaps it's the void of offense that showed up during the road spin through California? Perhaps it was the larger void created by Steven Stamkos' departure from the Lightning roster (as well as Vladislav Namestnikov's broken hand suffered Friday night in Montreal during the Syracuse Crunch's loss to the Hamilton Bulldogs)... Whatever the case, that not rushing a hot prospect tract has been stopped with the rumblings that RW Nikita Kucherov, second year North American skater, will be recalled by the Lightning.
Kucherov, 20, was selected 58th overall in the 2011 NHL draft by the Lightning. He played his first North American season of hockey last year in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, splitting time between the Quebec Remparts and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. In 33 games between the two clubs, Kucherov lit up the Q with 29 goals and 34 assists.
He's been a rookie sensation in the AHL in 17 games this season, posting 13 goals and 11 assists. He's been quiet in the past few games, but the Crunch's fortunes have taken a downturn due to injuries throughout the organization.
In fact, it's a new injury that inspired this call up - Ryan Malone did not practice with the Lightning on Sunday after taking a puck to the foot in Tampa Bay's overtime loss to Anaheim. It's also someone returning from injury that could make this a short stay for Nikita; Tom Pyatt is readying for a return to action, though it won't be in tie for Monday's game against the New York Rangers at Times Palace.
Defenseman Dmitry Korobov, who had been wiith the Lightning up until Thursday night in San Jose, has also been recalled by the club.