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Tampa's Toll for Kucherov's Absence

Posted by Webster Washington on 10/9/2016 8:05:12 AM

As the NHL preseason got underway, everyone thought things were settled in the Tampa Bay Lightning camp. But Nikita Kucherov hasn't signed yet, he hasn't showed up in camp, and there's an outside chance he may not be in a Lightning uniform when the regular season starts on Oct. 13. With a hot property like Kucherov missing from the team picture, Lightning backers in NHL betting had better beware.

His Importance

Kucherov was the leading point scorer for the Lightning last year with 66 points on 30 goals and 36 assists. He also paced the team in the playoffs with 11 goals and 19 points. Kucherov also worked well with Tyler Johnson at center and either Ondrej Palat or Alex Killorn on the opposite wing, earning the nickname the “Triplet Line” league-wide. So the Lightning should pay attention to his desires as a restricted free agent.

The Situation

Trouble is, the Lightning can't offer Kucherov but so much because of the salary cap; estimates are between $5 million and $5.5 million of cap room left. Kucherov is said to want around $6 million. Then again, to the Bolts' favor, few other teams can afford him. And the ones who can are not the types of competitive teams Kucherov would want to play on. Steven Stamkos was in a similar situation and decided to stay with the Lightning, a team with a legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup. And even if a team steps forward with an offer sheet, the Lightning would stand to gain a lot in compensation - a first, second and third-round draft pick, according to Kucherov's value. That's another reason another team would be hesitant to bite.

Betting the Bolts

Most people seem to think Kucherov will be back with Tampa, since it was thought a deal was squared away weeks ago. And the holdout should not last too long. But the longer he misses camp, the rustier he may get. A Tampa Bay team with a cold - or absent – Kucherov, is one to approach with caution in NHL betting, particularly in the over/under aspect. And just leave them be in NHL futures betting.

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