Report: Kucherov negotiations intensifying, aims to play in opener

Report: Kucherov negotiations intensifying, aims to play in opener

The Score - NHL Hockey

The clock is ticking for Nikita Kucherov and the Tampa Bay Lightning, but the restricted free agent appears to be nearing a deal as the regular season looms.

Negotiations are intensifying, and while nothing is complete at this point, it's likely Kucherov will be in Thursday's lineup versus Detroit, reports TSN's Bob McKenzie.

Kucherov and the Lightning have been at a standstill throughout the offseason, as cap space continues to be general manager Steve Yzerman's biggest enemy.

Yzerman retained both Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman at a discounted rate over the summer, and it's expected Kucherov will be asked to make the same concession. He's due a significant pay raise since emerging as one of the league's top offensive threats, while the Lightning have an estimated $5.8 million in cap room.

Kucherov has amassed 130 regular-season points, and another 42 in 45 postseason games over the course of two seasons with deep playoff runs.

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