Lightning will have to defend their Stanley Cup Championship without their best player and one of the top players in hockey in Nikita Kucherov.
With training camp less than two weeks away, Lightning GM Julien BriseBois told the media in a zoom call that star forward Nikita Kucherov will need to have hip surgery and miss the 2020-21 season.
Brisebois said there is hope that Kucherov will be ready for the playoffs, but it depends on how the rehab goes with Kucherov.
Speaking to the media, BriseBois said, “Those are the cards that we’ve been dealt. No one loves playing hockey more than Nikita Kucherov. I know how much it pains him that he will be missing the regular season. I also know how hard he’s going to work to get back as soon as possible.
“And now it’s our job as a group – players, coaches, management – to get ourselves into the playoffs so that we allow Kuch to compete this year and help us defend the Stanley Cup championship.”
Kucherov led the Lightning with 33 goals and 85 points last season. He also added 35 points in the playoffs.
This surgery will be similar to Braydon Point and Yanni Gourde’s surgeries in the past.
Kucherov will be placed on long term injured reserve.
On the surface, this looks like a bad thing. When you lose your leading scorer and best player, it is never a good thing.
The Lightning were two million dollars over the salary cap and was all set to make some painful decisions to get under the cap.
With the Kucherov injury, the salary cap decisions that BriseBois has to make will now be made later in 2021. The Lightning will be able to keep their Stanley Cup-winning team intact, at least for one more season.
The Kucherov injury also gives the Lightning 9.5 million dollars in salary cap money, and the Bolts have used up a lot of that money in the last week.
The Lightning re-signed defensemen Erik Cernak to a three-year deal. Cernak’s deal is worth $2.95 million per season. The Lightning also came to terms with defensemen Jan Rutta on a two-year deal worth $1.3 million per season.
Mathieu Joseph and Alexander Volkov also signed deals with the Lightning. Joseph’s deal is worth 1.475 million per season for two years, While Volkov signed a one year deal worth $700,000.
According to Joe Smith of the Athletic, the Lighting has resigned Anthony Cirelli to a three-year contract at $4.8 million AAV. The terms are $2.4 million, $4.8 million, $7.2 million.
BriseBois also indicated that Steven Stamkos should be healthy and in the lineup when the Lightning open up their season January 13th against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Lightning will raise their second Stanley Cup Championship on opening night.