It didn’t take long for RW Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning to have a fantasy hockey impact, as the 20-year-old scored his first goal in his NHL debut against the New York Rangers last Monday. Tampa won the game 5-0, and the rookie technically ended up scoring the game-winning goal.
The team was desperate after the latest injury to RW Ryan Malone and Kucherov was an obvious choice to fill in for the veteran. Kucherov was recalled from the Syracuse Crunch this past week and the young forward was putting together a stellar minor league season. He was leading all AHL rookies in goals and points before joining the big club.
Kucherov has shined since the promotion. He hasn’t exactly showed up on the stat sheet much, as his only point has come from his first career goal, but he continues to show potential on the ice. He showed his aggressiveness, by ripping off six total shots in his second career game against the Philadelphia Flyers. He also had an exciting breakaway against the Pittsburgh Penguins, only to be stonewalled by G Marc Andre-Fleury.
The former second round pick has an amazing ability to light the lamp and he is quickly maturing into an everyday player. The rookie forward hasn’t seemed lost on the ice, like most rookies, and the forward has turned in several quality shifts. Lightning coach, Jon Cooper, continues to rave about him and could decide to keep him around a little longer than expected.
Kucherov instantly becomes a viable fantasy hockey pickup in dynasty formats. Kucherov likely won’t contribute much this season, especially if het gets sent back down in the coming weeks, but the youngster should still earn his stripes. He will be worth stashing now for cheap and carrying over for a couple years.