Even though Tampa Bay Lightning suffered one of the worst postseason experiences in the history of the league, Nikita Kucherov might say that his season was OK.
We intentionally wrote OK, because there isn’t the slightest doubt that the Russian winger would trade all of his personal achievements for a Stanley Cup trophy.
The 26-year old born in Maikop, Russia, won the Hart Trophy, Lindsay Award, and Art Ross Trophy. Pretty amazing. And to be honest, he earned all of them. Kucherov had an astonishing run during which he showed class and was far better than all of his other rivals.
Nikita Kucherov wins the Hart Memorial Trophy 👏
• First player since Jagr ('98-99) with 40 goals & 80 assists in a season
• Most points in a season (128) since 1995-96 pic.twitter.com/V10mtyOJZP
— ESPN (@espn) June 20, 2019
In the ballot for the Hart Trophy, the Kucherov had 164 1st places out of 167, and had more than twice points than runner-up Sidney Crosby, 1677-739.
Though he didn’t question the value of all the awards he received this Wednesday in Las Vegas, the Russian stated that his primary goal is Stanley Cup.
“It’s a huge night for me and my family,” said Kucherov, “But the main thing is Stanley Cup…. All these individual awards, it’s obviously nice, but the main thing is Stanley Cup for me.”
During the previous season in which Tampa Bay posted one of the best records in the history of the NHL (128 points, 62-16-4), and was without competition during the regular part of the campaign. Kucherov was the essential piece of this crew, having 128 points (41 goals, 87 assists) which is the best individual record since Jaromir Jagr’s’ 141 points in 1996.
Still, the player wanted to emphasize that all his numbers are a product of excellent teamwork and that in fact, he wouldn’t achieve anything without the support of the teammates.
“When the team plays good, the numbers will obviously be good,” he said. “All my thoughts were about winning games for my team, and help the team get more points.”
According to his words, if the Lightning manages to keep the same team for the next season, they would have a chance to win the Cup.
“We’ve been playing good hockey, and I’m sure if we keep the team [together], we can bounce back.”
The proof for claims that Tampa has a championship-worthy team is another award which went to their player.
Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy dominantly won the Vezina Trophy for the best goaltender. Another Russian won 28 1st places during the ballot, out of possible 31. With 24 years, he has a bright future ahead of him.
Vasilevskiy won 62 games this season but failed to make an impact during the playoffs. He became the first goalie in Tampa’s history to win this award.
The best defenseman and the winner of the Norris Trophy is Calgary Flames’, Mark Giordano. The 35-year old posted one of the best seasons in his career, leading the league with a plus-39 rating.
“It’s not easy to play late into your 30s. I think we’re all aware of that as players, but [we] try to last as long as you can,” Giordano stated at the ceremony.
The best rookie was Elias Pettersson from Vancouver Canucks, while Ryan O’Reilly won the Selke Trophy for the best defensive forward.
As expected Barry Trotz from the New York Islanders got the Jack Adams Award, for the best coach. This is Trotz’s second time to win this honor, as he already has one from 2016 when he coached Washinton Capitals.
Don Sweeney from Boston is the best GM in the league.