Prospect of the Week: April 17, 2013

We continue our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their recent contributions on and off the ice.

The Prospect of the Week for April 17 is … Nikita Kucherov, W, Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL – Canada).

Karma, thy name is Kucherov.

Last fall, Patrick Roy of the Quebec Remparts decided he didn’t want to play Lightning prospect Nikita Kucherov in favor of Sabres first rounder Mikhail Grigorenko from Russia and Danish import Nick Sorensen. CHL rules state teams can only dress two import players at a time, so Kucherov, despite registering 10 points in six games, was the odd man out. Not being a fan of sitting in the pressbox, Kucherov requested a trade and Roy obliged, sending the Lightning 2009 second rounder to Rouyn-Noranda. The Huskies reaped the rewards as Kucherov had 26-27-53 in 27 games with the club.

Last week, the 8th ranked Huskies eliminated Roy’s 5th ranked Remparts, winning the second round series four games to one.

Kucherov was relatively quiet against Grigorenko, Sorensen, and Quebec until the series-clinching game. The winger registered three goals and three assists in a 6-1 Game 5 win, nearly single-handedly sending Roy to the golf course. Kucherov also had an assist in Game 4 and finished the series with 4-5-9 in five games. For that, he is our Prospect of the Week. He was also named the Canadian Hockey League Player of the Week.

The Lightning signed the young Russian when he arrived in North America this past fall and the organization will further develop him in the system next year in Syracuse. With an open competition in Tampa next fall for a scoring line spot, he’s a darkhorse to play in the NHL, but must add weight and 2-way acumen to do so. With Yzerman's patient approach, expect Kucherov to get his ice time in the AHL.

We rank Kucherov No. 8 among Bolt prospects.

Honorable Mention: Syracuse’s Brett Connolly has too many NHL games played to be considered a prospect, but the recently graduated prospect had his first career hat trick in a win on Saturday after scoring in Tampa earlier in the week.

Previous 2012-2013 Prospect of the Week winners:

April 10, Cedric Paquette, C, Blainville-Boisbriand, QMJHL-Canada
April 3, Matthew Peca, W, Quinnipiac, NCAA-USA
March 25, Tyler Johnson, C, Tampa Bay, NHL-USA
March 19, Dylan Blujus, D, Brampton, OHL-Canada
March 12, Radko Gudas, D, Tampa Bay, NHL-USA
March 4, Ondrej Palat, W, Syracuse, AHL-USA
February 25, Ondrej Palat, W, Syracuse, AHL-USA
February 19, Nikita Kucherov, W, Rouyn-Noranda, QMJHL-Canada
February 12, Alex Killorn, C/W, Tampa Bay, NHL-USA
February 5, Cory Conacher, W, Tampa Bay, NHL-USA
January 30, Nikita Kucherov, W, Rouyn-Noranda, QMJHL-Canada
January 23, Cory Conacher, W, Tampa Bay, NHL-USA
January 15, Artem Sergeev, D, Val-d’Or, QMJHL-Canada
World Juniors break
December 17, Alex Killorn, C/W, Syracuse, AHL-Canada
December 10, Nikita Kucherov, RW, Rouyn-Noranda, QMJHL-Canada
December 3, Cedric Paquette, C, Blainville-Boisbriand, QMJHL-Canada
November 25, Tyler Johnson, C, Syracuse, AHL-USA
November 20, Richard Panik, W, Syracuse, AHL-USA
November 12, Alex Hutchings, W, Florida, ECHL-USA
November 5, Nikita Kucherov, W, Quebec, QMJHL-Canada
October 30, Slater Koekkoek, D, Peterborough, OHL-Canada
October 23, Dustin Tokarski, G, Syracuse, AHL-USA
October 15, Cory Conacher, W, Syracuse, AHL-USA
October 9, Cedric Paquette, C, Blainville-Boisbriand, QMJHL-Canada
October 2, Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, Ufa Jr, MHL-Russia
September 25, Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, Ufa Jr, MHL-Russia