While Nikita Kucherov and the Tampa Bay Lightning are working on a new contract, Kucherov is also preparing for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey. When talking to Tom Gulitti of NHL.com, Kucherov made it clear that he would be representing his country; whether he has a new contract or not.
“I have a chance to play for Team Russia against the best players in the world and I’m not going to lose it,” said Kucherov to Gulitti.
— theScore NHL (@theScoreNHL) September 6, 2016
Kucherov isn’t the only player who is set to play in the World Cup while currently awaiting a new contract from their team. Fellow Russians Nikita Nesterov (Kucherov’s Lightning teammate) and Dmitry Orlov of the Washington Capitals are both looking to re-up with their teams as well as represent their countries at the World Cup of Hockey.
Both Nesterov and Orlov took different approaches when answering whether or not a lack of a contract worried them, or caused them any hesitation. Nesterov’s answer was a simple “No,” while Orlov seemed a little more concerned.
“I think everybody wants to have a contract before the World Cup begins,” Orlov said. “Right now I’m trying not to think too much about that. We’ll see how it goes. Everybody wants to be signed quicker, but right now I’m getting ready for this tournament and we’ll see how it goes.”
In the case of Kucherov, it’s clear that the Lightning are working hard to sign the 23-year-old restricted free agent to a new contract. One of the best young players in the league, Kucherov should see a significant raise from his last contract, but his attention right now seems to be entirely focused on representing Russia at the World Cup.