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The Tampa Bay Lightning and right winger Nikita Kucherov announced an agreement Tuesday on an eight-year, $76 million contract extension through the 2026-27 NHL season.
“I’m truly grateful to sign this contract extension to keep me in Tampa for the next eight seasons today,” Kucherov said. “I’d like to thank the Lightning organization and all of the fans for the support since making the Bay Area my home.”
The new deal, which will go into effect after next season, comes with an annual cap hit of $9.5 million.
Kucherov is coming off a career-best campaign that saw him register 39 goals and 61 assists across 80 games. His 100 points ranked third in the NHL behind the Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (108) and Philadelphia Flyers’ Claude Giroux (102).
The 25-year-old Russian forward also tallied 85 points in 74 appearances during the 2016-17 season, and his 316 points since his breakout year in 2014-15 rank fourth in the league over that span, per Hockey Reference.
Chris Johnston of Sportsnet reported the lucrative extension also doesn’t take the Lightning out of the trade sweepstakes for Ottawa Senators star defenseman Erik Karlsson:
Chris Johnston @reporterchris
Extending Nikita Kucherov does not take #TBLightning out of the Erik Karlsson trade talks. Quite the opposite; it gives them more certainty about their future.
Word is they continue to engage outside teams on a potential three-way deal with OTT.
The contract, while high-priced, should provide Tampa with plenty of bang for its buck.
Kucherov’s upcoming $9.5 million average annual salary is tied for ninth in the NHL with Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars and Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins, per Spotrac.
As more marquee players sign long-term contract extensions, that could look like a relative bargain since the dynamic winger should still be in the middle of his peak seasons for most of the term.
Kucherov will line up alongside center Steven Stamkos with either J.T. Miller or Ondrej Palat on the left side to once again give the Lightning one of the NHL’s most dangerous top lines.