Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Nikita Kucherov (The Canadian Press)It's a far cry to believe anyone is taking out their small violin to play a sympathetic tune for Quebec Remparts coach-GM Patrick Roy, whose NHL lockout-induced import imbroglio is dragging along interminably.
Thanks to new Canadian Hockey League rule that probably should be overturned on review, the Remparts have been running with an extra European on their roster for nearly a month, which of late has meant that either 18-year-old NHL draft prospect Nick Sorensen or Tampa Bay Lightning second-rounder Nikita Kucherov has sat out. Buffalo Sabres first-rounder Mikhail Grigorenko (38 points in 21 games, tied for fifth in QMJHL scoring) is too valuable. Kucherov, 19, who played for Russia in the world junior championship last season and could do so again, has spent the last three games parked in the press box. It's only natural to wonder if he is in Roy's doghouse. Or on the trading block.
From Carl Tardif (translated):
Patrick Roy settled the case for European players this week. "Probably will not play Kucherov [Wednesday]. Why? Because I like what I see now and there is no need to make a change," the coach stated, adding at the end of his sentence that decision was made.
The presence of three Europeans forced one to sit out every game. After giving four games of rest to Sorensen to treat mild discomfort to a foot, it has been Kucherov's turn to be sidelined for the same duration as Wednesday will be his fourth straight game being forced to sit. A few minutes earlier, Sorensen said he had no idea what would happen to them. The Swede scored two goals and an assist in his last three games, giving him an overall record of six goals and 12 assists in 17 games. (Le Soleil)
Who knows how this is ultimately going to be resolved. Kucherov, who has three goals and 10 points in six games since coming off major shoulder surgery, is undeniably a major talent at the Quebec League level. Maybe he's bearing a mark of being inconsistent or it's a question of people wanting more, although it's early on in his adjustment to North America. Being scratched only fuels speculation he could be the one to go while Sorensen stays put for the rest of his showcase season. It's at least been explored:
From Stéphane Leroux:
Selon 3 DG de la #LHJMQ Patrick Roy a mis Nikita Kucherov sur le marche des transactions...
— Stephane Leroux (@StephRDSJunior) November 16, 2012
Kucherov possibly being part of Team Russia is another wrinkle, since a player cannot also not be traded while away for an international tournament (the so-called Brad Marchand rule). It is hard to imagine how this state of affairs can hold for too much longer. The duration of the NHL lockout has made it all but certain the 18-year-old Grigorenko is staying in junior for the season.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.