Nowadays, in the most prestigious league of the world hockey, the National Hockey League, there are several dozen Russian athletes. One of the youngest players, Nikita Kucherov, has been coming over the ocean for the 5th year, of which the last 4 seasons have been in the Tampa Bay club. The Russian regularly shows excellent results, thanks to which he is called to the national team, one of the main hopes of which he is still considered.
At the start of a career
But among the Russian elite, Nikita did not fully manage to maintain his level, having made only two programs for 8 meetings. Returning to the “Red Army”, the hockey player once again showed excellent performance, in the second half of the season, being in “CSKA”. The coaching staff of “army men” saw the player’s talent, but there were a large number of experienced masters in the team, Nikita Kucherov didn’t go out on the ice enough often, which affected his performance. As a result, having gained only 5 points for the season in 18 matches, the Russian decided to search for a new club.
Like most players, the forward dreamed about playing in the most popular league - the NHL. Nikita Kucherov, terminating the contract with CSKA, first came to Canada, where he played for the Quebec hockey club from the province of the same name, from which, having played just 6 meetings, was sent to another Canadian team - “Rouen-Noranda Huskis”. In its composition, the Russian won the rest of the season, gaining 53 points in 27 matches, and spent the start of the next championship at Syracuse Crunch, serving in the American hockey league - the last step on the way to the NHL. For the first 17 games in the New York team, Kucherov scored 24 points and in November of 2013 he received a long-awaited challenge to the foundation of Tampa Bay.
Playing for Tampa Bay
As part of the American club, Nikita Kucherov quickly fit into the team, continuing to develop as a professional. The first incomplete season of the Russian in the NHL was quite modest: for 54 meetings within the framework of the regular championship and playoff games, the forward scored 19 points, which helped the team to take second place in the Eastern Conference championship. However, the player's zeal and his high potential made the coaches continue to trust the hockey player, for which he soon fully thanked the mentors.
In the next championship, Nikita Kucherov took over the responsibilities of the key player of “Tampa”. A hockey player, taking part in almost all matches, often became an earner for important points for the club. In 82 meetings, he scored 29 goals and made 36 assists in the championship, in which the “lightning” again took the silver. He also became one of the team's engines in the playoffs, where, with 22 points in 26 games, the Russian helped Tampa beat New York Rangers in a seven-game standoff in the playoff finals, and fought hard for the Stanley Cup, where in difficult fight “lightning” lost the title of “Chicago”.
The following year, the player took part in the youth composition of the national team, again contributing to his team’s success on the podium - in the fight for the victory, the Russians lost to Sweden in overtime - 0: 1. The following year, the Swedes once again turned out to be a stumbling block for Nikita Kucherov’s team, but this time the teams meeting was held in the semifinals, where the Swedish team moved the Russians in shootouts. But in the fight for the bronze, the Russian national team was able to beat Canada in overtime, again not remaining without awards.
In the following years, the player was seriously considered for an invitation to the main national team, however, Kucherov’s debut took place only in 2016, when the forward played in 4 games at the World Cup, gaining 3 points, but was content with only 4th place, losing to Canada in the semifinal - 3: 5.