The 27-year-old is among the NHL's most dangerous offensive players, finishing last season with 33 goals and 52 assists in 58 games. He led the Lightning in points (34) in the playoffs over 25 games as they went on to lift the Stanley Cup.
In 2018-19, Kucherov enjoyed a career year that saw him score 41 goals and dish out 87 assists for a personal-best 128 points. He won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer and was named league MVP by virtue of winning the Hart Memorial Trophy.
The Russian has progressively gotten better since debuting with 18 points in 52 games as a rookie with the Lightning in 2013-14. His point totals climbed to 65, 66 and 85 before finally reaching the 100-point plateau in 2017-18.
The Lightning hadn't even finished celebrating their Stanley Cup triumph before they faced the brutal reality of the NHL's salary cap. The silver lining of Kucherov's surgery is that his absence will provide some financial relief as he goes on long-term injured reserve.
But Kucherov will be sorely missed in the regular season when Tampa Bay starts its title defense on Jan. 13.