Capitals

Kucherov out 8-to-10 weeks after Oct. 16 injury vs. Capitals

Capitals

Tampa Bay Lightning star forward Nikita Kucherov will miss eight-to-10 weeks after undergoing surgery for a lower-body injury he sustained during Tampa’s win over the Washington Capitals on Oct. 16, the team announced Wednesday.

Washington will visit Tampa for a matchup next Monday -- the first game between the two Eastern Conference rivals since Tampa’s 2-1 overtime victory in mid-October at Capital One Arena. Kucherov appeared to suffer the injury while chasing a puck during the third period of his team’s win that night. He will miss the game vs. the Capitals on Monday, but the two teams won’t face each other again until early April.

If the current timeline for Kucherov’s recovery holds true, he’ll still be able to suit up for the Russian Olympic Committee for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Kucherov was named one of ROC’s first three roster selections for the games, along with his teammate on the Lightning, goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, and Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin. It will be Kucherov’s first time representing Russia in the Olympics if he’s healthy.

Kucherov, 28, was a key part of Tampa’s back-to-back Stanley Cup title teams of the past two seasons, winning the Hart Trophy for most valuable player for the 2018-19 season. He tallied one goal and three assists in his three appearances this season before going down vs. Washington.

 

Kucherov was at the center of some controversy last year. He missed the entire 2021 regular season after Dec. 30 hip surgery but was deemed healthy enough to return for the Lightning in the playoffs. His absence allowed the Lightning to place him on long-term injured reserve and the salary-cap space to keep other key players on the roster who otherwise might have been moved.

After his return to the ice just in time for the playoffs, Kucherov scored eight goals and 24 assists over Tampa’s 23 postseason games, boosting them to a Stanley Cup Final victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Kucherov has led the Lightning in scoring for the past five seasons.