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Behind the Numbers: Nikita Kucherov

Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns takes a look at the key stats on forward Nikita Kucherov.

by Bryan Burns /

The Tampa Bay Lightning locked up Russian forward Nikita Kucherov for three more years, signing the dynamic playmaker at an average cost of $4.766 million per season. 

Kucherov's numbers over the last two seasons certainly warrant the payday.

The budding superstar has put together a pair of remarkably consistent seasons over the last two years, posting 29-36-65 points in his second year in the NHL in 2014-15 and following with 30-36-66 points last season.

Kucherov's stat totals over the last two years, both in the regular season and continuing into the postseason, rank among the best in the league.

So just how impressive has Kucherov been in back-to-back seasons?

We delve a little deeper into Kucherov's stats, paying particularly close attention to where the winger ranks in the league over a multitude of offensive categories.

11 - Playoff goals in 2016

For much of the 2016 postseason, Kucherov and San Jose's Joe Pavelski were neck-and-neck for the goal lead. Every game became an opportunity for the duo to try and one-up the other. Pavelski finished as the playoff goal champion with 14 markers. Kucherov came in second with 11. But the Sharks advanced to the Stanley Cup Final, and Pavelski had seven more opportunities to score than Kucherov. For players whose team advanced beyond the First Round of the playoffs, Kucherov led the NHL for playoff goals per game at 0.65. Pavelski averaged 0.58 goals per game.

21 - Playoff goals in 2015 and 2016

When it comes to scoring goals over the last two postseasons, Kucherov has no equal. The 23-year-old has hit the back of the net 21 times over 43 playoff games between 2015 and 2016, ranking first in the NHL, one goal ahead of teammate Tyler Johnson. Kucherov's consecutive-season goal-scoring playoff run is the best in the league since Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby matched Kucherov with 21 goals combined during the 2009 and 2010 playoffs.

Of those 21 goals for Kucherov, six came on the power play, tied with fellow Bolt forward Ondrej Palat for most power-play goals in the NHL playoffs the last two years. Oh, and Kucherov's 12 power-play points over the past two postseasons are also tops in the league.

41 - Playoff points in 2015 and 2016

Kucherov has averaged nearly a point a game in the last two postseasons with 41 in 43 playoff games. Only Tyler Johnson has come close to matching Kucherov's point output over that stretch with 40 points over 43 games (the Lightning's Alex Killorn is third for points over the last two postseasons with 31). To be fair, Kucherov's league lead in this category is mainly a reflection of the number of playoff games the Lightning have competed in over the last two seasons (Chicago, at 30, has played the second-most amount of postseason games to the Lightning but still trail by 13 games). Still, his consistent point total shows his reliability in helping lead the Bolts to a Stanley Cup Final and the Eastern Conference Final in back-to-back seasons. 

47 - Plus/minus rating in 2015 and 2016

Kucherov's plus-38 plus/minus rating during the 2014-15 regular season was the best single-season plus/minus in Lightning history and tied with Montreal's Max Pacioretty for the best plus/minus in the NHL that season. Kucherov followed with a plus-9 rating during the 2015-16 regular season, for a two-year plus-47 total, good for third in the NHL behind only Los Angeles' Tyler Toffoli and the Rangers' Ryan McDonagh.

Additionally, Kucherov's plus-30 road plus/minus and plus-20 playoff rating over the last two seasons were both tops in the league.

59 - goals in 2015 and 2016

Kucherov ranks tied for 14th in the NHL for regular season goals over the past two seasons with 59.

Who has more?

Players like Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, Patrick Kane, Tyler Seguin and Sidney Crosby among other household names.

Kucherov has earned the right to be mentioned among the league's elite with his play the last two seasons. If he continues to produce at the level he's shown recently, he'll join them.

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