One restricted free agent Russian player down, one to go!
Monday afternoon the Tampa Bay Lightning announced the re-signing of 23 year old defenseman Nikita Nesterov to a one-year contract. While that closes contractual needs on defense (re-signing Nesterov was the last need to keep the defensive corps solid) there remains an elephant in the room as fellow Russian RFA, forward Nikita Kucherov, remains un-signed.
The NHL preseason for the Tampa Bay Lightning gets underway tomorrow against the Carolina Hurricanes at Amalie Arena while the NHL season approaches quickly (the official season start is October 13). The contractual scenario with Kucherov is the elephant in the room; the sought-after contractual retention. That's not an easy task.
By comparison, Nesterov has his work cut out for him - he is in competition now with former 1st round draft pick Slater Koekkoek for a slot on the NHL roster. It's not a guarantee that Koekkoek makes the club out of preseason, yet Tampa Bay carrying 7 defensemen is a norm... Both defensemen may play in Tampa Bay this season with their consistency of playing time to be determined.