It’s been a busy summer for Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman. He has managed to keep Steven Stamkos in town and locked up Victor Hedman with an eight-yeat deal as well. The Lightning also re-signed Alex Killorn to a lengthy extension and decided to ink goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy to a three-year pact.
A majority of the team’s offseason to-do list has been taken care of, but one big item still remains. That’s re-signing restricted free agent Nikita Kucherov. He’s coming off his three-year entry-level deal which carried a $711,666 cap hit according to GeneralFanager.com, and is in need of a new extension.
Even if Yzerman decided to use a bridge deal on the 23-year-old, it could be a relatively expensive contract. Kucherov is one of the NHL’s top young forwards, and we’ve seen similar players like Filip Forsberg haul in monster paydays this summer. Tampa might not be in the position to make that sort of offer, though, and they had numerous other contracts to hammer out over the last few weeks to boot.
We’re getting into the dog days of the offseason, and Yzerman recently spoke to Joe Smith of The Tampa Bay Times about how negotiations with Kucherov are going:
“We continue to communicate with his representation. And we expect to have him under contract to start the season.”
That’s good news for Lightning fans, but it doesn’t sound like Yzerman is in any particular rush to get a contract with Kucherov knocked out. He continued:
“Every negotiation is different and some take longer than others. Sometimes they get done when they get done. You can’t force it.”
Smith is also reporting that there is no set timeline for the two parties and that the only expectation is that a deal will get done sometime before the start of the regular season. This will be an interesting situation to keep an eye on as we draw closer to October.