Last year I was involved in a hockey pool for charity that I was fortunate enough to win with my neighbour. The reason why we won was because I knew and believed in the Lightning more than the other 20 or so poolies at the table and we slaughtered the competition. In fact, of the 80+ 2 man teams in all the pools, no one came close to us. The reason why I knew so much about the Lightning was my PC boy Brett Connolly. However, since he departed to Boston I still have a soft spot for Tampa Bay and as a result have a few other players I follow on a daily basis and have subsequently added them to my collection. Nikita Kucherov is one of those such players.
Originally a member of the Triplets line he found instant chemistry with Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat. However, this season has been a bit tough on the trio at first. Palat came out of the gate cold with 2 goals and 7 points in 16 games before getting injured and then only recently has fired back up his offensive engine with 7 goals and 10 points in the last 10 games. Johnson also has had a season to forget with a frigid start with 11 points in his first 28 games and a number of missed games due to injury as well. Like Palat, Tyler Johnson has come back a bit of late with 13 points in his last 16 games to show TB fans he will have his scoring touch in time for the playoffs. Kucherov the third member of the Triplets has arguably been the most consistent member of the Lightning this season and is currently tied with Stamkos for the lead in point with 60 and second in goals with 28. He is one goal and 5 points away from career highs in both categories and with 9 games to go there is no reason to believe he won't beat those numbers.
So what options do Kucherov fans have for rookies? Well there are a few including the staple Young Gun rookie but if you are looking for an auto rookie well....keep looking. Apart from the UD Buyback Young Gun Auto Rookie /86 or Gold Version /25 there are none. Yep, he was missed by nearly all the manufacturers save for some non autographed versions. So, I was a little disappointed by this but was able to track down two decent cards nonetheless.
13-14 Panini Prizm Prizm Nikita Kucherov RC
13-14 Upper Deck Young Guns Nikita Kucherov RC
While I often wonder how neat it would be to have an auto rookie of Gordie Howe or Wayne Gretzky the truth is those card were created without autographs on them and that doesn't make them any less desirable. However, for some reason in today's world I find myself often preferring an autographed rookie over a non-autographed one and wonder if I am the only one in this department. The lack of any Kucherov auto rookies is a little unusual especially when you consider there are far too many Daniel Bang auto rookies from the same year but sometimes that is the luck of the draw I guess and card companies can only do so much for us needy collectors. So I will leave you with this one question, are there any auto rookies of players you like or wish you could have had that were never produced?