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Kukla's Korner Hockey

Lightning taking the long route to a contract with Kucherov

07/27/2016 at 2:21pm EDT

From the Tampa Bay Times' Joe Smith:

[Nikita] Kucherov, 23, one of the league's top young stars, is a restricted free agent, and is due a hefty raise from the $700,000 he made last season. He's coming off a 30-goal season, and another clutch playoff performance. Think of the Predators' six-year, $36 million deal with Filip Forsberg as an example.

[Steve] Yzerman said Wednesday he remains confident the Lightning can sign Kucherov, though would not put a timeline on when it'd happen. Yzerman suggested it could take until the start of the season. Agent Scott Greenspun declined to comment on negotiations.

"We continue to communicate with his representation," Yzerman said. "And we expect to have him under contract to start the season."

The Lightning has roughly between $5-$6 million remaining cap space for next season, and still needs to sign Kucherov and fellow restricted free agent defenseman Nikita Nesterov. Yzerman said they'll have to eventually make a move before the season to become cap compliant, but doesn't need to make one before signing Kucherov and Nesterov. Yzerman said they have the room.

The fact the Lightning is in a cap crunch would seem to make it possible another team could give Kucherov an offer sheet, potentially driving up the price. Tampa Bay, of course, could match. There's no offer sheet believed to be on the table currently.

"We've got to be under the cap at some point," Yzerman said. "Depending on the health of players, Ryan Callahan had surgery and if he's not ready to to start the season, that buys us some time. We can do that (long-term injured reserve) if we need to. At some point, we're going to have to be cap compliant to start the season, there's no way around it."

Continued

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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