NHL Notebook: Is Nikita Kucherov’s season enough to win the Hart Trophy and Valeri Nichuskin cleared from NHL/NHLPA player assistance program

Zach Laing
1 month ago
There’s no denying the great season Nikita Kucherov is having.
His 38 goals and 64 assists have him leading the league in points, with 102, six up on his next closest competitor in the Art Ross Trophy race, Nathan MacKinnon. It’s also 13 up on Connor McDavid, who, heading into Monday night’s games, had 89 points.
And on Monday’s edition of Daily Faceoff Live, Tyler Yaremchuk and Frank Seravalli talked about whether or not it would be enough to win him his second Hart Trophy:
Tyler Yaremchuk: Kucherov is 40 points clear of his next Lightning teammate in Braydon Point in terms of total points. That is insane. When you look at where the Bolts are in the playoff race and the production they’ve gotten out of him is mind blowing. The season he’s having is incredible.
Frank Seravalli: One of the fastest players over the age of 30 to hit the 100-point mark. It’s not just that he’s lapping Brayden Point, it’s that Point is no schmo. He’s north of a point-per-game himself and scored 51 last season and that he currently has 62 points in 60 games. That’s how good Kucherov is.
If we’re talking about where he stacks up in the Hart Trophy race, he needs to be right near the very top.
There’s no denying that, but with how incredible Connor McDavid is, he also can’t be ruled out. McDavid, however is a bit behind the eight-ball on Kucherov, having six less games played, partially due to injury.
Even with that, McDavid’s 1.68 points per game pace isn’t all that far behind Kucherov’s 1.73. If they continue on that same pace, McDavid would finish the year at 132 points, with Kucherov at 138 points.
Let’s see how tight this race really gets.

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Nichushkin cleared from player’s program

Colorado Avalanche winger Valeri Nichuskin has been cleared from the NHL/NHLPA players assistance program, and is set to rejoin the team soon.
The league said in a release that Nichushkin has entered the follow-up care portion of the program, but that he hasn’t been cleared to return to game action. He entered the program on January 15th, marking his second stint there during his career.
The players assistance program was established to help players navigate a variety of issues one could experience in life while playing in the NHL, including alcohol and substance abuse.
In a statement when he entered the program, Nichushkin said:
“My goal is to address my issues and prevent any negative outcomes once and for all. I want to thank my wife and family, my friends, the Avalanche organisation, and all of our fans for their understanding and support. I will do everything I can to get back on the ice and join my teammates as soon as possible.”
The Avalanche have clawed by since Nichushkin entered the program, going 7-7-2 with a .500 points percentage, holding onto the third spot in the Central Division, at the time of writing.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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