The year was 2017. A young Nikita Kucherov was just coming off of his first 40-goal season in the NHL. So this blog wasn't exactly a revelation that Nikita Kucherov was #confirmed good at hockey. Rather, an extremely correct take that not only was he the biggest star on a loaded Lightning roster, but should be one of the biggest stars in the league. This is what I said 3 years ago.
Now in no way am I saying that Nikita Kucherov is underrated. You don’t score 40 in a season and not get the respect that you’ve earned. But what I am saying is that I feel like there are plenty of casual hockey fans out there who probably aren’t too familiar with the name Nikita Kucherov. Just think about it. He’s not even the biggest name on his own team. Most people think of the Tampa Bay Lightning and they automatically go to Steven Stamkos. After Stamkos, plenty of people probably go to Hedman. Once you go past Hedman, it’s a crap shoot. You’ve got people who will go to Tyler Johnson since people always forget that he was undrafted. You could get people who still think Jonathan Drouin is on the Bolts. You might get a guy like Riggs who says Alex Killorn because Killorn went to Harvard which just so happens to also be the university which Riggs attended. But the biggest star on the team is Kucherov and it’s about damn time the rest of the world agrees with that.
3 years later and I've never been more right. In fact, I don't think that anybody has ever been more right about anything ever. If you have any friends who like to watch hockey when the playoffs roll around but don't typically give a shit during the regular season, Nikita Kucherov needs to be one of the names that they know to go along with McDavid, Crosby and Ovechkin. You can throw MacKinnon in there to round out the top 5 names that there's literally no excuse for anybody not to know. Since that blog, he's won an Art Ross Trophy for the most points in the league. He's won a Hart Trophy and a Ted Lindsay Award as the league's MVP voted on by both the players and the media. And now he's putting himself in decent position to add a Conn Smythe to the list.
What this maniac has been doing all playoffs long, and specifically in the Eastern Conference Finals, is borderline Harry Potter shit.
The deflection pass to Brayden Point and following that up with a goal to go along with his 5-point night in game 1. Taking the lead for the most playoff points scored by anybody in the league over the past 5 years.
Taking the lead from Marty St. Louis (ever heard of 'em?) as the Tampa Bay Lightning's all-time playoff goals leader.
And the goal to get him to the top of that list was this game winner with just under 8 seconds left in regulation.
So yes. Nikita Kucherov should be a household name by now. And out of all the horrific takes I've had in the past that have blown up in my face, you can never take this one away from me. They don't call me the smartest man in hockey media for no reason. Most handsome, too.