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Kucherov on schedule to return to Lightning by Stanley Cup Playoffs

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Kucherov on schedule to return to Lightning by Stanley Cup Playoffs

Forward began skating this week, had hip surgery Dec. 29

Nikita Kucherov remains on track to return to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, general manager Julien BriseBois said Friday.

 

Kucherov had surgery on his right hip Dec. 29 and has been on long-term injured reserve. BriseBois said the forward began skating this week, including joining the Lightning for part of their morning skate Saturday.

 

"I fully expect that he'll be able to contribute come playoff time and hopefully add a little oomph to our team," BriseBois said. "I don't know there is anything that any team can do at the [NHL Trade] Deadline [April 12] that would be as impactful as adding Nikita Kucherov to our group."

 

BriseBois said the Lightning likely will not be making any moves prior to the deadline because they have no space under the NHL salary cap and know they're going to add Kucherov.

 

"We went into this season knowing that probably our only addition this year would be Nikita coming back for us during the playoffs," BriseBois said. "Hopefully we can do a good job securing a playoff spot."

 

Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Saturday that it was nice to see Kucherov on the ice, even though he knows Kucherov is far from being ready to play.

"[Kucherov] is a big part of our team so anytime we can have him around it's great for us," Cooper said. "Especially coming off that road trip and being able to see that, 'Hey, progress is being made.' He's starting to feel a little bit better. Is he far away from doing the things he usually does out there? Yes, but just to have him with the guys ... that's why we have a close group. Everyone loves being around each other."

 

Lightning forward Brayden Point, who had a similar procedure on his hip last season, said it's good for Kucherov at this point in his recovery to be on the ice.

 

"There's only so much you can do with having your hips out of it," Point said. "There's a lot of cardio and strength buildup. In saying that it's just good to get out there once you've been off that long so I think that's a really positive step for 'Kuch.' But yeah, there's work to be done and I don't think anyone is going to rush him. And whenever he's ready to go we'll be glad to have him back."

 

The Lightning, who host the Nashville Predators on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; SUN, FS-TN, NHL.TV), are tied with the Florida Panthers for second in the Discover Central Division (18-5-2), one point behind the first-place Carolina Hurricanes. Tampa Bay's .760 points percentage is the best in the division.

 

Kucherov was the Lightning's leading scorer in each of the previous five seasons, including 85 points (33 goals, 52 assists) in 68 games last season and leading the NHL with 34 points (seven goals, 27 assists) in 25 playoff games to help Tampa Bay win the Stanley Cup.

 

He won the Hart Trophy voted as NHL MVP, the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL'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.

 

"He's following the schedule very methodically, following the protocol and working hard with our therapists to get his range of motion back, get his strength back," BriseBois said Friday. "Now he's skating so it's getting those muscles to start firing up again. It is a process. It's a long rehab. It's a significant injury. But many hockey players have gone through it, including some of our players in years past, Brayden Point and Yanni Gourde to mention two of them. As of now everything indicates that he is right on track and he'll make a full recovery. When I see him every now and then his spirits are high and he's itching to get back playing again and ramping up what he's allowed to do."

 

NHL.com independent correspondent Corey Long contributed to this report

Huh...""I fully expect that he'll be able to contribute come playoff time" -  sounds fishy to me. A star player for a team exactly his cap hit over the salary cap will be back exactly in time ready to contribute when the playoffs when salary cap doesn't matter...

 

Thoughts? Any thoughts he'll be forced to come back if he's ready earlier - how would TBL even accomplish that? 

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Wow, how perfect that is for them!

Delay his surgery until the date until just before the season when an expected return range would evade any cap issues and give them millions extra in talent for a playoff run.

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39 minutes ago, NHL'er said:

Huh...""I fully expect that he'll be able to contribute come playoff time" -  sounds fishy to me. A star player for a team exactly his cap hit over the salary cap will be back exactly in time ready to contribute when the playoffs when salary cap doesn't matter...

 

Thoughts? Any thoughts he'll be forced to come back if he's ready earlier - how would TBL even accomplish that? 

Forced to come back earlier?  Hah.  Good luck.  They'll find a reason for him not to, even if it means giving him food poisoning or mono or a "concussion".

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4 minutes ago, 6of1_halfdozenofother said:

Forced to come back earlier?  Hah.  Good luck.  They'll find a reason for him not to, even if it means giving him food poisoning or mono or a "concussion".

Probably got the number of the quack that helped Hossa with his "allergies".

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Hawks did the same thing with Kane, and IIRC that was the 2015 season in which they won their last Cup.

 

It's not "right" but it's a loophole in the CBA and you can't blame them for taking advantage of it. We would want the Canucks to do the same thing if we were in that position.

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1 minute ago, kanucks25 said:

Hawks did the same thing with Kane, and IIRC that was the 2015 season in which they won their last Cup.

 

It's not "right" but it's a loophole in the CBA and you can't blame them for taking advantage of it. We would want the Canucks to do the same thing if we were in that position.

We kinda did with our 2011 team, if my memory serves me correct.  Edler and Salo were on LITR musical chairs that year, I think.

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10 minutes ago, Wilbur said:

We kinda did with our 2011 team, if my memory serves me correct.  Edler and Salo were on LITR musical chairs that year, I think.

Difference is they were actually injured.

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12 minutes ago, King Heffy said:

Difference is they were actually injured.

Especially Salo. Like that's just part of who he was. 

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36 minutes ago, 6of1_halfdozenofother said:

Forced to come back earlier?  Hah.  Good luck.  They'll find a reason for him not to, even if it means giving him food poisoning or mono or a "concussion".

I don't know. If it somehow got super obvious that he was ready, and the media got all over it, it might be a possibility the league might actually not want to look like dumbos for once. 

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1 hour ago, kanucks25 said:

Hawks did the same thing with Kane, and IIRC that was the 2015 season in which they won their last Cup.

 

It's not "right" but it's a loophole in the CBA and you can't blame them for taking advantage of it. We would want the Canucks to do the same thing if we were in that position.

Sure, but difference between us is we’d be the ones getting hit with the cap circumvention penalties.

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9 hours ago, kanucks25 said:

Hawks did the same thing with Kane, and IIRC that was the 2015 season in which they won their last Cup.

 

It's not "right" but it's a loophole in the CBA and you can't blame them for taking advantage of it. We would want the Canucks to do the same thing if we were in that position.

Yeah but if the Canucks did that the NHL would penalize the team and take away all their draft picks :lol:

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9 hours ago, linden17 said:

Right, cuz they just cut him open and performed surgery...so fake

To think they didn’t sell the player on it to be a win-win you are being naive.  TB has full buy in from their players to win and stay together.  That part is admirable and something hopefully our younger players are paying attention to.

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On 3/13/2021 at 3:54 PM, kanucks25 said:

Hawks did the same thing with Kane, and IIRC that was the 2015 season in which they won their last Cup.

 

It's not "right" but it's a loophole in the CBA and you can't blame them for taking advantage of it. We would want the Canucks to do the same thing if we were in that position.

The NHL has shown that they can blame teams (the Canucks specifically) for taking advantage of a loophole in the CBA.

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