Forensics: Nikita Kucherov

Cam Robinson

2015-10-30

Have teams figured out Kucherov and his Triplet mates or is this just a slow-start?

Today we’re looking at a player who had fantasy chat rooms divided this off season. Nikita Kucherov produced at fantastic pace during the 2014-2015 season, racking up 65 points in 80 games to go along with a league leading plus-38 rating. All this came during the dreaded sophomore campaign and on the heels of an 18-point effort through 52 games as a rookie. Was this player about to enter into the elite category of scorers or was this a case of teams focusing on Steven Stamkos and allowing secondary lines and defenders to try and stop the Kucherov line? Many had exceptionally high expectations for Kucherov, but so far in this young season, he has yet to reward his owners.

Even the most casual of fantasy hockey players knows about the Triplets line – Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Kucherov came together early last season and the chemistry was palpable. If you were lucky enough to have snaked one in your draft, you were reaping the rewards all season as the three accumulated 200 points in 232 games and a whopping plus-102!

2014-2015 Even-Strength Line Combinations

65.53%

EV

JOHNSON,TYLER – KUCHEROV,NIKITA – PALAT,ONDREJ

3.75%

EV

BROWN,J.T. – KUCHEROV,NIKITA – NAMESTNIKOV,VLADISLAV

3.62%

EV

JOHNSON,TYLER – KILLORN,ALEX – KUCHEROV,NIKITA

3.44%

EV

KUCHEROV,NIKITA – PALAT,ONDREJ – STAMKOS,STEVEN

3.14%

EV

JOHNSON,TYLER – KUCHEROV,NIKITA – NAMESTNIKOV,VLADISLAV

2.78%

EV

KUCHEROV,NIKITA – NAMESTNIKOV,VLADISLAV – PALAT,ONDREJ

2014-2015 Even-Strength Production

EV

JOHNSON,TYLER – KUCHEROV,NIKITA – PALAT,ONDREJ

29

44.62%

EV

JOHNSON,TYLER – KILLORN,ALEX – KUCHEROV,NIKITA

3

4.62%

EV

DROUIN,JONATHAN – JOHNSON,TYLER – KUCHEROV,NIKITA – PALAT,ONDREJ

2

3.08%

EV

KUCHEROV,NIKITA – NAMESTNIKOV,VLADISLAV – PALAT,ONDREJ

2

3.08%

EV

CALLAHAN,RYAN – JOHNSON,TYLER – KILLORN,ALEX – KUCHEROV,NIKITA

1

1.54%

Using Dobber’s Frozen Pool Line Combination and Line Production Tools, we can see that Kucherov played over 65% of his even-strength shifts alongside Palat and Johnson and together he produced nearly half of his even-strength points with those two by his side. To throw more gas on the fantasy fire, Kucherov produced these strong numbers while playing a shade under 15 minutes a night and only 2:12 on the power play.

Kucherov owners are well-aware of the production and excitement that he brought last season, however, during the early portion of this season, he has only accumulated two goals through 10 games – one at even-strength and one on the power play. Will this trend continue?

Kucherov struggled early on last season as well, recording only two assists through his first seven games before taking off for 63 in his next 73 games. This along with his current even-strength shooting percentage sitting at 4.55% – a far cry from the 15.2% he shot last season – are indications that his luck will change and the points will start to come in bunches. To help matters, Tampa coach Jon Cooper has seen fit to increase Kucherov’s ice time a full two minutes – up to an average of 16:58 – as well as increase his power-play time to 2:46.

Owners need to be patient with young players, even those who display elite skills so early on in their careers. Kucherov is just 22 years of age and his developmental path may not be as smooth or as dynamic as fellow Russian, Vladimir Tarasenko – whom he has often been compared to – but the young right-winger has the speed, skill and creativity to become a premier goal scorer and point producer. Just think, if the Triplets ever get split up for any length of time, I’m sure Kucherov would get an awfully long look on the right side of Steven Stamkos and Jonathan Drouin… not the worst situation for a player to be. 

UPCOMING GAMES

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STARTING GOALIES

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HOT PLAYERS

  Players Team GP G A P
EVGENI MALKIN PIT 5 4 7 11
ADAM FOX NYR 4 1 6 7
JAKUB VORACEK PHI 6 0 10 10
NATHAN MACKINNON COL 5 2 6 8
MIKA ZIBANEJAD NYR 29 25 19 44
NIKITA KUCHEROV T.B 24 16 20 36
KEVIN FIALA MIN 11 9 7 16
EVANDER KANE S.J 7 5 5 10
KYLE CONNOR WPG 7 8 2 10
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS EDM 17 8 16 24

LINE COMBOS

  Frequency PIT Players
21.5% SIDNEY CROSBY CONOR SHEARY JASON ZUCKER
20.5% EVGENI MALKIN PATRICK MARLEAU BRYAN RUST
18.5% TEDDY BLUEGER SAM LAFFERTY BRANDON TANEV

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