Nikita Kucherov will be out indefinitely for the Tampa Bay Lightning because of an undisclosed injury.
The forward did not play the final 9:08 of a 2-1 overtime win against the Washington Capitals on Saturday. He has scored four points (one goal, three assists) in three games this season.
“It’s definitely not a day-to-day thing, so we’ll wait until we get an official word, but he’s definitely out,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Monday. “He’s going to be out for a while here. We’re not going to put a timetable on it until we get an official word. In the short term here he’s definitely out.”
Kucherov, who did not play last regular season while recovering form hip surgery, led the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 32 points (eight goals, 24 assists) to help the Lightning win the Stanley Cup for the second straight season.
Kucherov scored 34 points (seven goals, 27 assists) in 25 playoff games in 2019-20 to become the sixth player to lead the postseason in scoring without a tie in consecutive seasons (Mario Lemieux, 1991-92; Wayne Gretzky, 1987-88; Rick MacLeish, 1974-75; Phil Esposito, 1969-70; Howie Morenz, 1924-25).
“Frustrating more for him because I just know the work it took for him to get back,” Cooper said. “He was rewarded in the end with hoisting the Stanley Cup again, but I know he was looking forward to having a big year. As I said it’s still early on here so let’s see what the official diagnosis is, but anytime he misses one game it’s frustrating for him and so I feel for him. Again, let’s wait and see what happens.”
Forward Corey Perry replaced Kucherov on the top line with Ondrej Palat and Brayden Point at practice Monday.
“Losing a guy like that…and I don’t know, I haven’t talked to anybody about what’s going on…but yeah it’s a big hole,” said Perry, who signed a two-year contract with the Lightning on July 29. “He’s a big part of this team. But they did it last year without him. They found a way. Everybody bought into the system, he came, he got healthy and away they went. It’s just a matter of finding that little bit of depth and that little bit of courage to pick him up.”
Kucherov was the Lightning’s leading scorer for five straight seasons from 2015-20. He won the Hart Trophy voted as NHL MVP, the Art Ross Trophy as the League’s leading scorer, and the Ted Lindsay Award as most outstanding player as voted by the NHL Players’ Association in 2018-19, when he scored 128 points (41 goals, 87 assists) in 82 games.
Selected by Tampa Bay in the second round (No. 58) of the 2011 NHL Draft, Kucherov has scored 551 points (222 goals, 329 assists) in 518 regular-season games with the Lightning and 127 points (44 goals, 83 assists) in 113 playoff games.
NHL.com independent correspondent Corey Long contributed to this report