Couple of shiny cards for you tonight. I'm running just about on empty as far as mental energy or creativity goes, and it's only Monday. So, we'll go with the alcohol theme to tie this pair together!
Aside from having some epic facial hair, Charlie has carved out a nice career for himself in the time since this card was released. He's been an everyday outfielder for Colorado for the past 5 seasons now, and has been named an All-Star and Silver Slugger multiple times. Even finished 5th in NL MVP voting in 2017 thanks to a .331/37/104 stat line, and an OPS of 1.000.
The Lightning had a disappointing playoff run to say the least, capping off one of the best regular seasons in the history of the NHL with a four-and-out sweep at the hand of the 8th-seed Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round. You can argue that Tampa Bay, and Kucherov in particular, kinda choked when it mattered most, but what you can't argue is the fact that Nikita just had one of the most impressive regular seasons in decades.
Kucherov finished the year with a remarkable 128 points (the final two of which I witnessed in person!), which is the most ever for a Russian-born player. It was the highest single season point total for any player in the salary cap era, and the most by any player in a season since Mario Lemieux in the mid-'90s! This was Nikita's 6th NHL season, and he has improved upon his previous year's assist and point totals every single year of his career so far.
Still just 25 years of age, Kucherov already has close to 500 career regular season points. If he continues to excel (and play on a powerplay that's as strong as Tampa's was last year) it's entirely possible that he could reach Ovechkin or Crosby status as far as career accolades and statistics. He's got plenty of years left to try to win a Stanley Cup, but that first round defeat must have stung nonetheless.
It will be a lot of fun watching this guy's career unfold over the next decade or more, even more so knowing that I've got this shiny and relatively rare rookie card representing him in my hockey collection!
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