Quick Strikes: Rumor has it that Nikita Kucherov is good and that Slater Koekkoek might (finally?) get traded

All this and more!

Nikita Kucherov is good, this we know. But how does his current season - which is on track to break several more Tampa Bay Lightning franchise records - compare to those of players who still currently hold those records? Yesterday, Geo took a look at the seasons Vincent Lecavalier hit 108 points, Brad Richards nabbed 68 assists, and Martin St. Louis reached 68 assists.

What I want to do here is look at those three seasons and compare those players’ first 43 games to what Kucherov has done through his first 43 games. What kind of pace were they on at that point. Did their pace pick up over the rest of the season or did it slump? Can it give us any insight into what Kucherov what might accomplish over the rest of the season? Let’s find out!

Elliotte Friedman broke the news yesterday that the Lightning have begun to seriously shop Slater Koekkoek (again?). The defenseman has struggled to find a place within Tampa’s deep lineup, and the pleasant surprise that is Erik Cernak has made it nearly impossible for Koekkoek to get NHL ice time.

The news that the team is shopping him shouldn’t be a surprise. But it does raise an interesting question. The Lightning have three unrestricted free agents on the blue line next summer. Anton Stralman, Braydon Coburn, and Dan Girardi all have expiring contracts. Even if the Lightning re-sign one of them, they still have an open spot on defense.

Koekkoek seemed like an obvious candidate to fill that role at an inexpensive price. Even considering his struggles, he should be a fine option as a left handed third pairing defender. If the Lightning are ready to move on from him completely, that suggests they have someone else in mind for that role.

The Bolts did something really well during their Monday night victory against Columbus: Blocking shots.

“We’re obviously thinking about (supporting Vasilevskiy) and trying to block as many shots as we can, trying to get in lanes,” D Mikhail Sergachev said. “(The Blue Jackets) have a good group of (defensemen) and good forwards who can shoot the puck. We tried to block as many as we can.”

As someone who lives in New York, grilling supplies are the last thing on my mind currently. However, those of you in warmer climates will want to check this out:

Another thing I can’t imagine right now is being on the beach, but again...warmer climate!

Both the NHL and the AHL are gearing up majorly for their respective All-Star games. Yesterday, the Lightning got to finally show fans the jerseys they’ve been teasing for a few days now. I assume these are for the skills competition. Of note is that these are the first-ever NHL jerseys to feature repurposed and upcycled materials.

The jerseys mark a change for the NHL All-Star game.

There’s been a lot of talk around the NHL about Brayden Point and his lack of an all-star nod, and his potential to capture the fan vote and still make it in. Point, however, isn’t holding his breath waiting for the nomination.

“Thank you to all the fans who have voted,” he said. “I think you look at that list, there are a lot of great players on it. Whatever happens happens. Just thanks to the people who have voted.”

The Syracuse Crunch has two player representatives in their league’s weekend, Connor Ingram and Cory Conacher, and one coach representative, head coach Ben Groulx. Patrick Williams took a closer look at Ingram and some other prospects in his weekly AHL Notebook.

With goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy having another All-Star season with Tampa Bay, Ingram, a 21-year-old goalie, is getting plenty of work in Syracuse. Last season, he earned postseason playing time, appearing in four games. This season, he is 9-5-0 with a 2.44 goals-against average and .920 save percentage, though he has been out since Dec. 21 with a leg injury.

Syracuse was in action against Binghamton last night. The message across the board was the same: Consistent effort wins the day.

Brady Brassart reached a personal milestone with the game: He played in his 150th AHL game.

Unfortunately for the Crunch, they did a lot right during the contest but ended up having very little to show for it. Binghamton won the game 4-0.

The Crunch dominated most of the game. With the assistance of seven power plays, they dominated the shot counter to the tune of 35-10. They were better at the battles along the boards. Much of the five-on-five play was on their terms. They only took two penalties and killed off both of them. They limited the Devils to five shots in the first, three in the second, and two in the third. The only thing they didn’t do: find a way to beat Evan Cormier. The result was that the Devils picked up their first win against the Crunch in well...a while.

Those in Syracuse looking to make a difference in a kid’s life can partner with the Crunch and Daniel Walcott to become a mentor. The team has begun featuring a child waiting for a mentor. Meet Anthony:

The Orlando Solar Bears signed rookie defenseman Carter Struthers yesterday. In a twist of fate, Struthers actually started the season with the Solar Bears, and was traded to the Newfoundland Growlers on October 10th, 2018.

The Buffalo Sabres put Scott Wilson on waivers, and he cleared yesterday. He’s already in Rochester ready to make the most of his time in the second-best league in North America.

“They made it clear to me too that a lot of times when you throw someone on waivers it’s trying to get rid of them a little bit,” Wilson said. “They made it clear that wasn’t the case. I’m excited to be back here, have some fun playing hockey, and get that timing back.”

He’s already made great impression. Chris Taylor said, “We’ve talked a lot already this morning. He wants to get better but he also wants to help the team win games. He doesn’t just care about himself and that’s what I like about him already.”

As he is wont to do, Mike McKenna has already embraced his new organization. He gave fans a sneak peak of his new mask yesterday, all decked out for the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Hartford Wolf Pack, AHL farm team of the New York Rangers, aren’t exactly having the season they expected, but there are still players doing good things on their team. Blue Shirt Banter took a look at three of their defensemen yesterday: Chris Bigras, John Gilmour, and Brandon Crawley.

Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Sean Durzi, drafted in the 2nd round in 2018, was traded to Guelph Storm yesterday.

The Guelph Storm have been building up for a run at the Memorial Cup this season (Ryan Merkley trade aside), and adding a top player like Durzi is exactly what they needed on the blue line. This season Durzi has been an offensive and defensive star for Owen Sound, he has three goals and 13 assists for 16 points in 17 games. He missed a few weeks at the start of the season with an undisclosed injury, but hasn’t missed a step since returning.

Bryce Desrochers is a 16-year-old with Cerebral Palsy, and he has been a fan of Tyler Seguin for almost a decade. He got to meet Seguin recently. (Pay wall)

Lehigh Valley of the AHL shared this unique story featuring well-known celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.

Two days ago, the Buffalo Beauts of the NWHL parted ways with Canadian defender Sarah Edney. Mike Murphy took a look at the challenges the Beauts are going to face as they move forward.

With Edney leaving the team to attend dental school in Australia, the Beauts now have the smallest roster in the NWHL. Buffalo now has 21 players under contract, including just seven defenders. Her departure has created an opportunity for veterans Jacquie Greco and/or Jordyn Burns to earn a regular spot in the Beauts’ roster.