Nikita Kucherov is 23 years old. He is playing in just his 275th NHL game as the Tampa Bay Lightning face the Washington Capitals. Coming into tonight’s game, he had amassed an impressive 218 points (99 goals, 119 assists). Now he can add another impressive accolade to his career - 100 NHL goals.
Kucherov was drafted in the second round (58th overall) by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2011. Given his impressive production in the NHL, he is widely regarded as a draft steal.
So just how much of a steal was Kucherov? For comparison, only two other players drafted in 2011 have scored 100+ goals - Gabriel Landeskog and Brandon Saad. Those two players, along with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are the only players with more points than Kucherov.
The true measure of Kucherov’s value becomes more apparent when you compare the games played across these four forwards.
Gabriel Landeskog : 272 points (115 G, 159 A) in 414 games. Averages: 0.66 points per game. 0.28 goals per game.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins : 254 points (90 G, 164 A) in 381 games. Averages: 0.67 points per game. 0.24 goals per game.
Brandon Saad : 227 points (103 G, 124 A) in 354 games. Averages: 0.64 points per game. 0.29 goals per game.
Nikita Kucherov : 219 points (100 G, 119 A) in 275 games. Averages: 0.80 points per game. 0.36 goals per game.
Just for fun, here are some more facts about the 58th overall pick in 2011. Kucherov has more points than the 12 players drafted immediately before him combined. No player drafted after him has more goals. The only players drafted after him with more assists are Johnny Gaudreau and Lightning teammate Ondrej Palat (which makes sense because he was probably collecting assists on Kucherov’s goals).
Kucherov has come a long way from his very first goal on his very first shift against Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers. Back then, nobody knew his name.
Now everybody knows Kucherov. If they don’t, they’re just not paying attention. He’s a beloved icon among Lightning fans and we know we’re very fortunate that he plays for the Bolts.
Congratulations Kuch! We’re looking forward to watching you hit the 200 goal mark very soon!