The banged-up Tampa Bay Lightning will be without two more regulars on Monday night.
Forward Ryan Malone and defenseman Radko Gudas are both out with injuries, head coach Jon Cooper announced this morning. That’s opened the door for AHL scoring sensation Nikita Kucherov to make his NHL debut, skating on a line with Alex Killorn and Teddy Purcell.
Kucherov, the 58th overall pick at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, has 24 points in 17 games for Syracuse this season and sits second in American League scoring, four back of league leader Travis Morin (28 points for Texas).
While it promises to be an exciting evening for Kucherov, the Lightning can’t be happy with the way things have unfolded in November. The club already lost leading scorer Steve Stamkos to a broken tibia and Keith Aulie to an upper-body ailment, and those came after Tom Pyatt suffered a broken collarbone and Brian Lee underwent knee surgery the month prior.
As for Malone and Gudas, the former has nine points in 23 games this year while the latter has six, but is averaging close to 20 minutes per game and has emerged as a physical stalwart on the Bolts’ blueline.