Tampa Bay Lightning star winger Nikita Kucherov is set to miss at least two months with a lower-body injury.
The Lightning announced Kucherov underwent a procedure on the unspecified injury Tuesday and will miss eight to 10 weeks.
In three games this season before getting injured, Kucherov accounted for one goal and three assists.
The three-time All-Star sat out the 2020-21 regular season while recovering from offseason hip surgery. He returned for the first game of the Stanley Cup playoffs and led the NHL in postseason scoring en route to a second straight championship.
Kucherov's injury and subsequent return led many hockey fans to criticize the Lightning for being $18 million over the salary cap, which doesn't count in the playoffs.
Before the 2019-20 season, the Russian had been one of the most durable players in the league, playing 515 of 562 of Tampa's regular-season games from 2013 to 2020. In those games, he tallied 221 goals and 326 assists for 547 points.
Kucherov is one of the top players in the NHL, as he won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer and the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP in 2019.
With Kucherov sidelined, the Bolts will rely heavily on captain Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat and Alex Killorn up front. Corey Perry, Pat Maroon and Anthony Cirelli are among the forwards that will need to fill in during Kucherov's absence.
The Lightning persevered without Kucherov last season, but this season could be a different story.
Tampa has struggled during a 3-3-1 start, and it will have to snap out of it without the benefit of its best forward for at least the next two months.