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Quick Strikes: Nikita Kucherov is the NHL’s first star for the month of February

And the Lightning sign an undrafted free agent.

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Bolts

Nikita Kucherov was the NHL’s first star for the month of February. Patrick Kane (puke) was the second star and Vladimir Tarasenko was the third star.

Kucherov led the NHL in assists and points with 8-17—25 in 15 games, helping the Lightning (49-12-4, 102 points) post a 12-1-2 February record that increased the team’s lead atop the NHL overall standings to 13 points. Tampa Bay recorded at least one point in each of its first 14 games of the month (12-0-2), including a franchise-record, 10-game winning streak from Feb. 9-27.

The folks at the league office in New York aren’t the only ones to notice what Kuch is doing. We’ve been tracking his historic pace here at Raw Charge for a while and with less than 20 games to go in the season, he continues to score at a rate that would set a record for the salary cap era.

Despite not scoring last night against the Bruins, Kucherov is still on an historic scoring pace. As recently as a few years ago, wondering whether we would see another player score 120 points was reasonable. Now, Kucherov is tracking toward achieving that. A point per game pace over his final 17 games would put him at 121. And he’s been scoring at well above a point per game all season.

In non-Nikita Kucherov news, the Lightning continued their tradition of signing undrafted free agents from the QMJHL. This year’s signee is Jimmy Hungtington who plays for Rimouski Oceanic with Tampa defensive prospect Radim Salda.

Huntington was an undrafted free agent who has 83 points in 60 games this season for Rimouski including 38 goals. The 83 points is a career high following 58 points in his previous season with the Victoriaville Tigres.

The overage forward is in his final junior season, and currently sits sixth in QMJHL scoring, and second on the Oceanic behind 2020 top prospect Alex Lafrenière.

The Prospects

Normally, I wouldn’t share a tweet from Axe Body Spray for Dad’s icon John Buccigross but I’ll make an exception here because he has a good clip of Sammy Walker doing fun things. Walker remains everyone’s favorite favorite seventh-round pick and I can’t wait to watch him light up the 3 on 3 tournament at prospect camp again this summer.

Getting back on brand, we remain committed to sharing all of Connor Ingram’s musings. Yesterday, he tweeted about...his mom replacing a basement door more than a decade after a mini hoop incident? Sounds about right.

The Game

The Lightning weren’t the only team to sign an undrafted free agent yesterday. The Dallas Stars also bolstered their prospect pool by signing Tye Felhaber.

Felhaber, 20, has skated in 60 games this season for the Ottawa 67’s of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), registering a team-leading 99 points (55-44=99). Among OHL leaders, he ranks first in goals (55) and is tied for second in points (99). Additionally, the forward shares first in the League in plus/minus rating (+50) and ranks fourth in shots on goal (263). In three seasons with Ottawa, he has amassed 192 points (99-93=192) in 163 contests.

The Ottawa Senators fired head coach Guy Boucher and replaced him with interim coach Marc Crawford. The decisions was fine as Boucher seemed hesitant to play the team’s young players and getting them minutes is all that matters now that they’ve traded every useful NHL player. But in typical Senators fashion, they just couldn’t be normal about it. First, the press release about the firing contained a job description for the new coach?

In tandem with an evaluation of our current coaching staff, we will conduct a search for a new head coach following the season. We will be looking for a coach who excels as:

A teacher who will focus on the development and growth of each player on the team;

A listener who encourages feedback from players and the coaching staff;

A communicator who lets every team member know where they stand and what is expected;

A tactician who brings structure and game planning that will enhance our rebuild.

That’s weird. But that wasn’t all. General Manager Pierre Dorion gave a nonsensical press conference in which he claimed that the team was good enough to win games. That’s just factually incorrect. Their roster is the worst in the NHL and every win should be considered a minor miracle.

Not content with the degree of weirdness established earlier in the day, the Senators sent an email to season ticket holders in which they desperately try to seem like they know what they’re doing. Unfortunately, it’s obvious they don’t.

No matter how many times they say this is a rebuild, this isn’t a rebuild. It’s a tear down for financial reasons. A year ago, this team had Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone, Matt Duchene, and Thomas Chabot. That’s enough to build around. Instead, the gutted the team and are trying to sell it as a smart rebuild. No one is falling for it and the sooner Eugene Melnyk goes belly up and sells the team, the better.