Prospect of the Week: January 30, 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 January 30 is … Nikita Kucherov, W, Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL – Canada)

Lightning prospect Nikita Kucherov made his 2013 QMJHL debut last week after missing nearly the entire month of January because of his participation in the 2013 World Junior Championships in Russia and rehabbing an injury he sustained in the tournament.

Bolt Prospects has learned that Kucherov sustained an arm injury when he was knocked to the ice late in the tourney. He returned to Quebec immediately after the WJCs to heal.

When he was deemed healthy again, Kucherov wasted no time finding the scoresheet for the Huskies, notching a goal and an assist on Friday in a loss to fellow Lightning prospect Artem Sergeev and Val-d’Or. The next day he mirrored his Friday effort with a goal and a helper in a loss to Chicoutimi. Finally, he produced a goal and two assists on Sunday in a big win over the Sagueneens to give him three goals and seven points in three games last week.

For the season, Kucherov has 29 points in 16 games split between Rouyn-Noranda and Quebec. His 1.8 points per game average is among the league leaders in that category.

During the afore mentioned World Junior tournament, Kucherov was arguably Russia’s best forward along with his friend Mikhail Grigorenko. Considering Grigorenko made the Sabres this year and the other premier Russian forward for the WJCs, Nail Yakupov, made the Oilers, that tells the hockey community what kind of upside Kucherov possesses. He already has an NHL contract in his back pocket, but will likely be assigned to AHL Syracuse next year for at least one season as Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman likes his prospects developing with as much ice time as possible until they’re ready for a full-time role in Tampa. Kucherov still needs to develop the 2-way side to his game and gain strength before he reaches the NHL.

Expect that from Kucherov, our Prospect of the Week, sooner than later.

Honorable Mention: Dustin Tokarski, Alex Killorn, and Radko Gudas also garnered strong consideration for this week's award.

Previous 2012-2013 Prospect of the Week winners:

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