It’s been a busy week for Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman.
On Wednesday, he kept captain Steve Stamkos from going to market with an eight-year, $68 million extension. On Friday, he locked in franchise defenseman Victor Hedman (eight years, $63 million) and goalie of the future Andrei Vasilevskiy (three years, $10.5 million).
Most GMs would sit back and relax after that set of accomplishments, and maybe light a cigar.
But there’ll be no smoking for Yzerman, who still has plenty of work to do — including a deal for prized forward Nikita Kucherov.
“We’ll do our best to get (it) done as quickly as possible,” Yzerman said, per the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s a process, hopefully sooner than later. I’m confident in that at some point, we’ll be able to reach an agreement.”
More, from the Times:
Kucherov could theoretically get an offer sheet from another team, which Tampa Bay is allowed to match. But it would prove costly if the team ends up signing him, costing that team compensation of a first, second and third round draft choice (if Kucherov makes between $5.6 million and $7.5 million annually).
Kucherov, who has seasons of 29 goals and 30 in back-to-back seasons, is also a clutch playoff performer, with 42 points in 45 career playoff games. He’s a plus-50 in 211 career games.
Having just wrapped the last of his three-year, entry-level deal, Kucherov could be in line for a massive raise. His postseason prowess alone would have teams salivating at the prospect of landing him, and it’s important to remember he’s still pretty young, having only turned 23 in June.
Of course, those are just a few of the reasons why Yzerman is so committed to keeping Kucherov in the fold.
It won’t be easy — Alex Killorn and Vladislav Namestnikov are also RFAs in need of new deals — but the Bolts do have nearly $13 million in available cap space and, with Vasilevskiy signed, Yzerman could ship out Ben Bishop, which would represent another (roughly) $6 million in savings.
Whatever the case, one thing is clear — the Bolts really value Kucherov, and definitely want to keep him around.
“He’s becoming a leader on our team. Really a go-to-guy for us,” Yzerman said. “He can play in a lot of situations, do a lot of things on the ice. Nikita is going to continue to develop.
“He’s determined to be an elite hockey player and a complete hockey player.”