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Draft Profile: Nikita Kucherov

Nikita Kucherov (Via

Nikita Kucherov (Via

The Rangers currently have five defensemen under the age of 28 on their roster and two more top prospects on the way, so it’s very likely New York will be looking to add some offensive firepower with its first-round pick, No. 15 overall in the NHL Draft.

Between now and June 24th, we’ll take a look at some of the forwards that the Rangers might be thinking about taking on draft day.  Today, we look at…

Nikita Kucherov

HT: 5-10

WT: 163

Pos: RW

Shoots: L

Birthday: 6/17/93

Team: CKSA Moscow, KHL

2009-2010 stats: N/A

2010-2011 stats: 0g, 2a, 8gp, -3, 0PIM

27g, 21a, 41gp, 81PIM (CKSA 2, Russia-Jr.)

2010-2011 playoffs: N/A profile >



The Hockey News: 95

CSS: 17 Midterm Rank: NR (European)


TSN: 56 Midterm Rank: N/A

TSN (Craig Button): 17

The Scouting Report: 39 Midterm Rank: NR

Bruins 2011 Draft Watch: NR

Corey Pronman: 19



Highlight Reel >


What They’re Saying:

THN – “Quick shot, excellent stickhandler.  Insanely creative, but inconsistent.”

The Scouting Report – “It’s tough to find a player that made a bigger case for himself at the U18’s than Russia’s Nikita Kucherov. The dynamic Russian winger absolutely shredded the competition in Germany with an astronomical 21 points in 7 games. Kucherov actually had quite a strong season in the MHL this past year and even had some seasoning in the KHL so it’s not like he’s coming out of left field. His offensive instincts and dynamic skills could probably justify a first-round selection, but the likely “Russian” fears and concerns about strength might push him into the second round.”

Bruins 2011 Draft Watch – “We're going to start calling him "Midas" because everything he touched turned to gold. Unbelievable offensive performance by one of the more skilled prospects in the entire class, but who hurt his standing this season by looking disinterested and acting at times petulant in earlier tournaments. Kucherov saved his best for last, putting on a tour-de-force that no doubt will have some NHL teams who do not fear drafting out of Europe readjusting their previous thinking on him. Before the tourney we would have thought there was no way Kucherov would be a first-round pick, but if you're a club picking in the final few spots of this draft, why wouldn't try to swing for the fences? If he does drop into the second, the wait won't be a long one. Showed enough game-breaking speed, quick hands and an absolutely serial killer instinct when it came to finishing off chances.”

Corey Pronman – “Nikita Kucherov was the draft's best kept secret until the Under-18's, and those who've followed Kucherov over in Russia's Junior league have long known about the potential he has. He's an above-average skater, with good mechanics and quick, rapid strides. His puck skills grade as above-average as well, but not really in the stick-handling department as that aspect is barely average. Kucherov makes his play on the puck by the way of his passing skills, which sits comfortably as a 55 grade tool, but can flash 60. His finishing ability also grades as above-average. Kucherov has shown the ability to wrist goals from mid-distance, find and knock in loose pucks from close in and has a hard one-timer that he likes to unleash from the circles. His physical game at the moment is below fringe level, just because he's a short guy with a frame that is very thin and lacks strength, but his work ethic is good enough that when he grows, the tool can get to fringe. Kucherov frequently goes to the front of the net, at times spending entire power plays there, shows decent ability pressuring on the forecheck and will battle for the puck, but is easily overwhelmed by bigger players. He's a smart player who thinks the game at a solid to 55 grade level. His offensive smarts are seen in his patience and vision with the puck and anticipation of the play, and defensively he shows average ability, with the fact his combination of skating and work ethic let him fly up and down the ice help him stay on his check well. His intangibles are also quite notable and his coach noticed that, naming him the Captain of a team with plenty of 19, 20 and 21 year olds at the age of 17. Kucherov has the ability to play a plethora of roles, and once he bulks up, he's advanced enough to make the transition to the highest level pretty soon.”

Hockey’s Future – “His record breaking scoring performance at the U18s is certain to improve his draft stock. Kucherov was able to really amplify his skill set playing with the phenomenal playmaking skills of 2012 top prospect Mikhail Grigorenko. His opportunism and ability to raise his game to match such skill is impressive, but Kucherov has been steadily impressing all year long at every level he has played.” – “The knock on Kucherov is his inconsistency, but during the under-18s, he’s been consistently awesome. The Russian right winger has world-class creativity, a good shot and mad stickhandling skills.”



Mock Drafts:

Adam Kimelman, – N/A

Mike Morreale, – N/A

Steven Hoffner, – N/A

Deven Persaud, – N/A – N/A

Gary Joyce, ESPN – N/A

Mark Seidel, CBC – N/A

Hockey’s Future – N/A

The Hockey News – N/A


Thoughts: Kucherov wasn’t on anyone’s first-round radar until a ridiculous performance at the under-18s, but now he’s one of the fastest rising players in the draft.  Kucherov passes fantastic passing and finishing ability and is known for being a good skater and stickhandler as well.  Scouts mentioned his inconsistency, but clearly he improved as the year progressed.  As with all Russian prospects, there is concern about bringing Kucherov over to North America.  That makes picking him a risk, and one that not all teams are willing to take.

The Rangers drafted Alexei Cherepanov out of Russia in 2007 and didn’t seem worried about getting him to North America eventually.  Kucherov’s offensive ability will make the Rangers think about him, but he’s probably a bigger risk than they’d like to take.  A team like Washington, which has tremendous success with Russian prospects thanks to Alex Ovechkin, is a more likely future home for Kucherov.




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Should The Rangers Draft For Positional Need Or Talent?

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J.T. Miller >

Nikita Kucherov >


Posted by Kevin Baumer | June 17, 2011 at 07:24 pm

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