Prospect of the Week: November 4, 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 November 4, 2013 is … Nikita Kucherov, W (Syracuse Crunch, AHL, USA).

Anyone surprised?

Someone should tell Syracuse Crunch rookie Nikita Kucherov it’s not supposed to be this easy. Players aren’t supposed to average two points-per-game in their first 10 professional games, but after Kucherov averaged three points-per-game last week in three games, that’s exactly what he’s doing with 20 points (11 goals) in 10 games.

On Monday Kucherov was named CCM/AHL Player of the Week, then on Monday night that award was trumped by our Prospect of the Week award. Last week he won the AHL Rookie of the Month award. Here’s hoping he found a Syracuse apartment with a big mantle over the fireplace to put all these awards.

The 2011 second round draft pick had two goals and two assists against both Albany and Rochester last week, then followed that up with “just” a goal in Binghamton on Saturday. He leads the AHL in goals as a rookie and is tied for the league lead in points.

Kucherov projects as a potentially elite scoring line winger at the NHL level. His playmaking and vision are vastly underrated, or rather overshadowed by his Pavel Bure-like shot. He doesn’t have Bure’s speed, but he’s shifty and has a decent burst. He’ll do just fine at the NHL level once he fills out physically (he’s listed at 178) and becomes a more responsible player – something he’s been working on all season when he’s not hammering the scoresheet.

We rank Kucherov as Tampa Bay’s No. 3 prospect behind Jonathan Drouin and Andrey Vasilevskiy.

2013-2014 Prospect of the Week winners:

October 29: Kristers Gudlevskis, G, (Syracuse Crunch, AHL, USA).
October 24: Henri Ikonen, W, (Kingston Frontenacs, OHL, Canada).
October 16: Nikita Kucherov, W, (Syracuse Crunch, AHL, USA).
October 9: Henri Ikonen, W, (Kingston Frontenacs, OHL, Canada).
October 1: Andrey Vasilevskiy, G, (Salavat Yulaev, KHL, Russia).
September 24: Adam Erne, W, Tampa Bay (NHL) and Quebec (QMJHL)