Prospect of the Week (11.21.11)
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 or flyovers involved, but weâ€™re pretty sure this will be mentioned on this playerâ€™s career highlight video.
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, forward, Russian Junior Team and CSKA Jr. (MHL â€“ Russia)
Kucherov, the Lightningâ€™s second round pick in 2011, has been on fire for CSKA in the Russian junior leagues after being demoted from the Kontinental Hockey League last month. The skilled sniper had 13 goals and 20 points in 14 games for CSKAâ€™s junior club before he was selected to join Russiaâ€™s squad for the 2011 Subway Superseries. This series matches Russian junior selects against all-star teams from the three Canadian major junior leagues.
This was a test for Kucherov as the CHL leagues are regarded as tougher and more development friendly than Russian juniors. Kucherov could light the lamp at will against wide-open competition in Russian juniors, but could he do the same against North Americaâ€™s best?
Kucherov had seven points (four goals) in the six-game series against the Quebec, Ontario, and Western leagues, including a two-goal, three-point effort in the seriesâ€™ final game against the WHL. Russiaâ€™s 7-5 win last Thursday enabled them to split the series, 3-3. Kucherov was also a ridiculous plus-5 in that final game. He had three goals in the seriesâ€™ final three games.
For this performance, heâ€™s our first star of the week. Kucherov is back in Russia now, set to resume his season with CSKAâ€™s junior club. Heâ€™s expected to be a strong contributor for Russiaâ€™s U-20 representation in the World Junior Championships after Christmas.
He projects as a scoring forward â€“ possibly elite â€“ at the NHL level. The key for him is to add weight and get himself in a better development situation.
Kucherov goal from Game 2 the Superseries:
Previous BP Prospects of the Week:
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