Nikita Kucherov: Pre-Draft Reviews

Nikita Kucherov
Position: Right Wing
Shoots/Catches: Left
Height: 5.11
Weight: 165
Born: 06/17/1993
Age: 18
Hometown: Maikop, RUS
Acquired: Selected by Tampa Bay Lightning in Round 2 (#58) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft
Last Team: CSKA Moscow (KHL)
Projects As: Scoring liner
Rankings: CSS 17 (International skaters), TSN 56 (overall), THN 95 (overall), Red Line Report 90 (overall)

CSKA Moscow (KHL): 8 GP, 0-2-2, 0 PIM, -3
Krasnaya Armiya (MHL): 41 GP, 27-31-58, 81 PIM
Russia (U18): 7 GP, 11-10-21 (Tournament record for points)

Dan Sallows, Scout: “I had the opportunity to watch Nikita Kucherov do his thing and score 7 points (2G,5A) in 4 games at the 2010 World Junior A Challenge in Penticton, BC earlier this season, and it looks as though he is up to the same magic at the 2011 IIHF U18’s, as he leads the tourney in scoring with 3 goals and 8 points in 2 games thus far. The talented Russian has all the makings of an exceptional pro, despite his 5-foot-10, 150-pound stature, and may just be a high risk/high reward type player that should attract NHL scouts for the upcoming draft. Currently ranked 17th overall among European skaters by Central Scouting, Kucherov is a slick, speedster that simply can put the game on his stick. He has Datsyuk-like ability, where he can elude defenders at top speed, is very creative, and has tremendous vision and hockey IQ. Thisseason, the 17-year-old suited up for 8 games in the KHL with CSKA Moskva, putting up 2 assists, and absolutely dominated in the MHL with his CSKA-Krasnaja Armija Moskva squad. The Maikop native scored an impressive 25 goals and 53 points in just 35 games, en route to being selected to the All-Star game. Kucherov could very easily be a first-round pick, and probably should be despite the lack of a transfer agreement between Russia and the NHL. The exceptionally gifted winger was a third round pick (60th overall) by CSKA Moskva in the 2010 KHL Draft.”

Ryan Woodlief, Red Line Report: “If you had told us before the U-18 tourney that someone would score 11 goals and 21 points to lead the scoring parade, and then given us, oh … let's say a gazillion guesses as to who it might be — well, let's just say we'd still be guessing.
True, Kucherov was slightly riding on the coattails of Mikhail Grigorenko and Nail Yakupov — his more dynamic teammates who opened things up for the rest of the crew. But still, we can't deny that Kucherov was terrific, even if we still feel he's soft and a horrific diver. His performance was a real eye opener for RLR.”

Goren Stubbs, NHL Director of European Scouting: "He came up from nowhere. I saw him in August, saw him in November, saw him in February, and in August and November you could hardly notice him. In February he was the star on the team and in April he was the star of the tournament.

“He's a very good passer and playmaker. Perhaps he didn't have confidence in himself in the beginning of the season. But in February and April, when I saw him in tournaments, international competition, he was filled with confidence and did a lot of things with the puck that he didn't do before.

"He needs a lot of strength, because a little push and he's down on the ice," said Stubb. "But he's a talented player."

The Hockey News: "Quick shot, excellent stickhandler. Insanely creative, but inconsistent."

TSN: "Set an all-time U-18 tournament record with 21 points in seven games, capturing Best Forward honors, and impressing a plethora of NHL scouts and GMs in the process with his offensive wizardry. Strengths - Breathtaking skill level, very agile and quick, skilled puckhandler, works hard at both ends of the rink. Crafty forechecker with a quick stick and soft hands, has a sniper's mentality and abilities, can roof the puck from two feet out. Weaknesses - He's a Russian still playing in Russia, no guarantees he'll come over or stay for long. Needs to bulk up for pro game, could be more physical. NHL Upside - Has the skill to be a top-line winger, but will it be in the NHL?"

Kucherov said he plans on staying at least two more seasons in Russia to further develop his skills and build on his 5-foot-10, 163-pound frame.