What does the future hold for these two Lightning prospects?
Welcome to the newest addition of “The Journey”, a weekly column highlighting up and coming prospects in the NHL. This is my first column with Dobber Hockey and I’m excited for the opportunity! Hopefully you enjoy the ride. Feel free to leave comments below. With NHL training camps underway, we’re going to kick this thing off by exploring the journey of two highly talented young prospects competing for ice time for Tampa Bay, both of which should be on your fantasy radar.
Nikita Kucherov – RW, Tampa Bay Lightning
Dobber Hockey Top 215 Prospects Rank: 5th of 215
If Nikita Kucherov was Canadian, he would’ve gone in the first round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The benefit of hindsight allows us to look back and scratch our heads in disbelief as to why certain players were picked ahead Kucherov. Obviously, we'll never know for sure. However, nobody that summer could deny the fact Kucherov was a first round caliber talent. Ultimately it came down to the player's nationality, as he was a Russian national playing in Russia. It was unclear at the time whether Kucherov would be willing to leave his homeland, and so, when? Tampa Bay General Manager Steve Yzerman and Director of Amateur Scouting Al Murray weren’t afraid of "the Russian factor" as evidenced by Kucherov's selection in the 2nd round, 58th overall, a pick regarded by some pundits as "the steal of the draft". The breakdown of Kucherov's game is simple, as it's based on puck possession and producing offense. He's a speedster, a sniper and a playmaker whose only notable weaknesses were lack of strength and defensive ability. Since being drafted, Kucherov has trending up as a prospect.