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Quick Strikes: Nikita Kucherov Ranked Among Biggest Breakout Players in the NHL

The Bolts

The NHL Network ranked Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov the 2nd biggest breakout player in the league, between Edmonton superstar Connor McDavid and Toronto’s wunderkind Auston Matthews. “Kucherov had 10 goals in 18 games in November and 22 points (12 goals, 10 assists) in March. He had two goal streaks of at least four games, including two hat tricks and five four-point games. He has increased his goals and points totals in each of his four NHL seasons.“ Ex-Bolt Jonathan Drouin ranked 29th, and starting goalie Andrei Vesilevskiy was 35th. [NHL.com]

Huner Eitel from our friends at Bolts By The Bay has an interesting argument for why Ondrej Palat should be the Tampa Bay Lightning’s RFA priority this summer over teammate Tyler Johnson. Do you agree? You can check his argument out here.

Top 25 Under 25

22 — The Tampa Bay Lightning drafted centerman Alexey Lipanov in the 3rd round, 76th overall. “Lipanov has been lauded as an underrated player who could blossom into something special as he ages… Lipanov has been compared to Igor Larinanov and David Krejci in his style of play. He has the potential to be a top-six NHL two-way center. The ceiling on Tampa Bay’s young Russian is extremely high and there are many who think he won’t be held up in the OHL for long.” [Raw Charge]

23 — Matthew Spencer, 44th overall draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2015, is looking to re-energize his development at the pro level: “Spencer is a guy that hasn’t lived up to the potential some saw in his as a 16-year old. There are some scouts that expected Spencer to materialize into one of the best prospects in hockey, but after four years of junior, he is going to have to show a lot in Syracuse to prove that he has legitimate NHL potential.“ [Raw Charge]

24 — Tampa Bay Lightning’s Libor Hájek battled through a tough season: “Despite playing on a reasonably bad team, 6’2, 196 lb Hájek, who carried the A, did incredibly well last season. He earned 4 goals and 22 assists in 65 games played for the Blades — but even more than that, tried to keep his team tough to play against. His 81 PIM was second only to 20-year-old undrafted teammate Evan Fiala.” [Raw Charge]

The Game

The CWHL announced two new GM hirings today: “Nicole Latreille [will] replace Rebecca Michael as GM for the Toronto Furies… Last week, during her appearance at Puck Talks, Chelsea Purcell confirmed that she would be taking on the role of General Manager for the Brampton Thunder. She joined the team as Assistant General Manager in the 2016-17 season before replacing Lori Dupuis as Interim GM.” [Pension Plan Puppets]

Former Dallas Stars and Buffalo Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff was hired by the New York Rangers on June 24th. Dave from Blue Seat Blogs wonders if Ruff’s pedigree puts pressure on current head coach Alain Vigneault: “It cannot be ignored that AV has taken a lot of fire for his lineup choices. Jeff Gorton has effectively taken away his toys (Glass, Girardi, likely one of Staal/Holden soon too), so now it’s on AV to adjust and dress some kids who he may not feel comfortable with yet.“ [Blue Seat Blogs]

In somewhat related hockey news several NHLers got married today:

Jake Gardiner (finally) married his long time girlfriend:

Game day!!

A post shared by Kristin Jensen (@kristinjensen61) on

Alex Ovechkin tied the knot and got a very special shoutout at his reception!

Rough translation: Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a telegram as well as personally called Alex to congratulate him! Russian Machine Never Breaks has a great article on it that you can read here.

And lets not forget Matt Duchene’s wedding!

I get to marry her today😍. Could not feel more lucky or blessed, today is gonna be👌

A post shared by Matt Duchene (@matt9duchene) on

Finally, the countdown continues…

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