Prospect of the Week (1.24.12)
This season Bolt Prospects introduced our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their on-ice contributions. There are no trophies or plaques, but weâ€™re considering a WWF/WWE-type belt they can wear during games. At the least, maybe a really big belt buckle with the BP logo on it.
Quite simply, we wanted to highlight prospects throughout the year to help fans get better acquainted with the next round of Lightning stars while recognizing the prospectâ€™s achievement on the ice.
This weekâ€™s BP Prospect of the Week award goes to â€¦ Nikita Kucherov, CSKA Jr. (Russia).
(Pictured: Kucherov [right] and Nikita Gusev celebrate Kucherov's BP Prospect of the Week)
Itâ€™s absurd - in a good way - that weâ€™re halfway through the season and Lightning 2011 second round pick Nikita Kucherov is still averaging a goal a game. This week Kucherov had six points in three games, including four goals. Three of those goals came as a hat trick Sunday in a 9-4 win over Poprad Jr. He also had a 1+1 game on Friday and added an assist early in the week.
While Kucherov is dominating at the junior (MHL) level, he had only one assist in 13 KHL games playing against men to start the year. After riding the shuttle from the KHL to the MHL and back a few times, he settled into an MHL role.
Kucherov was called up to CSKA after his Sunday hat trick and responded by scoring his first KHL goal on Tuesday. While that doesnâ€™t count in last weekâ€™s Prospect of the Week evaluation time frame, itâ€™s absolutely worth noting.
Former Lightning leader Tim â€œCaptain Wraparoundâ€ Taylor would be proud of the way he scored it.
Next year Kucherov is expected to be in the KHL for at least a full season before possibly making the jump to North America.
Previous BP Prospects of the Week:
Riku Helenius, JYP (Finland) - January 16, 2012
Brett Connolly, Canada (U20 WJC) - January 10, 2012
*Due to the Christmas break when few games below the NHL level were played, no POTW award was given.
Mark Barberio, Norfolk Admirals (AHL) - December 19, 2011
Vladislav Namestnikov, London Knights (OHL) - December 12, 2011
Tyler Johnson, Norfolk Admirals (AHL) - December 5, 2011
Alex Killorn, Harvard (NCAA) - November 28, 2011
Nikita Kucherov, Team Russia/CSKA Jr. (MHL) - November 21, 2011
Vladislav Namestnikov, London Knights (OHL) - November 14, 2011
Dustin Tokarski, Norfolk Admirals (AHL) - November 6, 2011
Riku Helenius, JYP (Finland) - October 30, 2011
Matthew Peca, Quinnipiac Bobcats - October 23, 2011
Radko Gudas, Norfolk Admirals - October 16, 2011
Carter Ashton, Norfolk Admirals - October 9, 2011
Brett Connolly, Tampa Bay Lightning - October 2, 2011
Mattias Ritola, Tampa Bay Lightning - September 25, 2011