Lightning Re-Sign Nikita Kucherov

by | Jul 10, 2018 | News, NHL, Rumors | 10 comments

The Tampa Bay Lightning announced they’ve re-signed Nikita Kucherov to an eight-year, $76-million contract extension. The 25-year-old right winger’s new deal begins in 2019-20. Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports $44.5 million of that money is in signing bonuses. 

Nikita Kucherov signs eight-year extension with the Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kucherov is entering the final season of a three-year, $14.3-million contract, with an annual average value of over $4.76 million. He’s getting a significant raise, doubling his AAV to $9.5 million per season. Cap Friendly has the breakdown of the signing bonuses, which includes $11 million in the first season. They also point out the Lightning now have over $65 million tied up in 12 players for 2019-20.

It’s not surprising Kucherov got this big raise. After all, he left money on the table in his previous contract to give the Lightning more cap flexibility with the promise of a bigger reward later on. He could’ve sought much more but once again appears to have given up extra dollars to leave his club some wiggle room under the cap ceiling. Playing in Florida, which doesn’t have a state tax, also makes accepting $9.5 million annually a lot easier. 

Since his NHL debut in 2013-14, Kucherov has steadily blossomed into one of the league’s top scorers. He followed up a 40-goal, 85-point performance in 2016-17 with a career-best 100-point campaign last season. He’s also led the Lightning in scoring in each of the last three seasons.  Now entering the prime of his career, Kucherov is well established as an NHL star.

Kucherov’s hefty signing bonuses probably won’t sit well with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who reportedly frowns on these tactics, but there’s nothing in the current collective bargaining agreement to prevent player agents from pitching these type of deals or the teams from accepting them. Expect this little loophole to be closed in the next round of collective bargaining between the league and the NHLPA.

A more interesting question is how Kucherov’s new contract might affect Tampa Bay’s well-documented efforts to acquire Ottawa Senators superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson. Though Kucherov’s deal won’t affect the Lightning’s cap hit for 2018-19, they still have only $3.4 million in cap space, prompting speculation they were attempting to shed salary to free up cap room for Karlsson’s $6.5-million cap hit.

With Karlsson a year away from unrestricted free agency, it’s believed he could command over $11 million annually on a long-term extension. Given how much the Lightning have invested already for 2019-20, they’ll have to free up considerable cap room if they intend on bringing Karlsson in for the long term. 




  1. I’m not sure E.K is really necessary now. The number of players and prospects they would have to move wouldn’t be worth it. Plus it would hurt TB’s biggest strength which is their depth. TB now has Stamkos, Hedman, Mcdonagh, Miller, Johnson, and now Kucherov under contract for the next 5 years. That is a core I wouldn’t want to disturb.

    • With the number of guys Tampa has locked up on 5-8 year deals, many of their prospects will never get to see NHL ice. Better to use them for value now while their worth is at its highest. If they don’t excel during their first 2 years in the AHL, value will drop. Use them or move them, they still have plenty of depth.

    • Killorn still has 5 as well, last 3 under a modified NTC, Palat 4, last season a modified NTC. Point, Sergechev & Cirelli will soon all be locked up long term over the next few seasons, Segechev & Cirelli will most likely bridge but who knows.

      Miller’s new contract has a modified NTC the last 4 seasons, Johnson’s, McDonagh’s & Hedman’s the last 3. I don’t see Hedman ever moving on his current deal but Yzerman at least gave himself the flexibility.

      Yzerman is brilliant. I hope they don’t get EK I would far prefer to see Stralman extended & the cap space available used to retain the most valuable players, moving out some of that prospect depth for a lesser Dman like a Faulk. Having the ability to move out these players above should the need arise later as the kids coming are better is sound.

      Johnson is essentially obsolete on TB now. He has been pushed to RW to accommodate Point as the #2 & Cirelli supplemented him at the #3 spot. If Gourde were to be extended soon might TB ask Johnson if he’s willing to waive sooner than 2021-22? He would get a far better playing opportunity elsewhere but if EK isn’t acquired TB can roll this loaded roster at least until losing a player in the expansion draft.

      As currently constructed this is a cup contender of years.

      • Tyler Johnson may be attractive to Seattle in an expansion draft — e’s from the area and played Jr there.

  2. I am so happy to see this deal, I would hate to see EK there really tipping the east and this could put that deal at risk. Right now the top 6 teams in the east would make for a great season….along with the top 10 in the west, this could be a year for the ages. I don’t miss the 90’s NHL at all.

    • I do. Mid 90s hockey FTW.

  3. What impact will this contract have on players like Matthews, Marner and Nylander? Will this act as a target or ceiling for Matthews?

    • No one cares about those guys bud

    • A floor

  4. Multiple Chrisms imposters? Or is this like Chrismsrocon!?!?