A Look Into Nikita Kucherov’s Eight Year Contract Extension With The Tampa Bay Lightning
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Nikita Kucherov signed an eight-year, $76 million extension with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. Tampa Bay keeps their top scorer in place. What does this all mean? What impact may it have down the road? Let’s take a look.

Nikita Kucherov contract explained

Again, thanks to CapFriendly, contracts are easier to dive into quickly. Kucherov’s extension kicks in for the 2019-20 season. He will earn $4,766,666 for the 2018-19 campaign. Joe Smith makes more sense of it here. Steve Yzerman said the following on the early contract extensions:

“From a player’s perspective, it eases their mind,” Yzerman said. “They can plan their future. From a team’s perspective, it helps us going forward, the cap number and commitments we have, so we can make other decisions accordingly.”

The salary structure looks like this.

  • 2019-20: $1 million salary + $11 million signing bonus
  • 2020-21: $4 million salary + $5 million signing bonus
  • 2021-22: $3.5 million salary + $8.5 million signing bonus
  • 2022-23: $4 million salary + $5 million signing bonus
  • 2023-24: $5 million salary + $5 million signing bonus
  • 2024-25: $5 million salary + $4 million signing bonus
  • 2025-26: $5 million salary + $3 million signing bonus
  • 2026-27: $4 million salary + $3 million signing bonus

Now, there are some wrinkles with this deal. The extension features a no-move clause which kicks in for the 2020-21 campaign. After that, there is a modified no-trade clause that starts June 16th, 2024. Kucherov submits a ten team trade list.

Simply, this deal steps down incrementally well in the final half of the extension. The cap hit is 11.95% which compares favorably to the Steven Stamkos contract. A $9.5 million AAV for a 100-point scorer is some deal!

The extension and down that long and winding road

Kucherov is currently 25-years old. When the extension kicks in, he will be 26. Every player does not age the same, but the forward will be only 34 when his extension ends. The question becomes what happens to Tampa Bay with all these contracts. Remember, Tampa has over $65 million committed to 12 players for the 2019-20 season alone.

Steve Yzerman emphasized a win-now approach, but there is some wiggle room to the window. How Yzerman negotiates or tries to extend this window will be vital. Does this extension eliminate Erik Karlsson talk? That answer is no.

No one quite knows when or if a decline will occur. The prime is now, and for the next several years. That keeps things interesting as Tampa Bay has their core locked in.

Years 5-8 introduce a different dynamic. What will Tampa Bay look like? That is what cannot be guessed at this time. However, a small enough core is in place to believe Tampa Bay will be a perennial contender.

Numbers and notes

Among other things, we can use visuals from Bill Comeau here to help. Kucherov remains off the charts in quite a few categories. His game score rose to second in the league. There are many great numbers here. Age curves are fickle but Kucherov could defy it for most of this extension.

Kucherov is a player capable of producing 100+ points again and again. Fortunately, his hot start last year indicates that even higher point outputs are possible. Expect him to play around 20 minutes. With all these chances, that should curb Kucherov’s potential regression in the later years of the extension. There exists no real primary concerns.

Kucherov’s numbers are from another planet — especially in the first half. He cooled off slightly in the second half but began to heat up again later in the year. This is why 110+ point campaigns are in play. His goals above replacement was almost 24! Let that sink in. Value for Kucherov makes this extension so easy dollar wise.

A few final words

Kucherov’s ability to make lightning quick decisions and fast release should not regress much during this extension. He may age a bit come years seven and eight. On the other hand, take a look at Alexander Ovechkin. Expect several adjustments to Kucherov’s game which should minimize any major decreases.

Projections suggest Kucherov could go above the 45 goal mark at some points during the new deal. The potential of 40+ power play points in a year is realistic also.

Nikita Kucherov presents an offensive weapon that still has room to grow. Be afraid NHL.