The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Nikita Kucherov to an eight-year contract extension worth $76 million, the team announced Tuesday.

The deal pays out $9.5 million annually and kicks in for the 2019-2020 NHL season.

The 25-year-old from Moscow is currently in the final year of a three-year deal worth $14.3 million. He signed that deal in October of 2016.

Kucherov’s new deal puts him in some pretty elite company, especially for a player his age. When the contract commences, he’ll be the highest-paid player on the Lightning. Steven Stamkos will make a million less in 2019-2020.

The Kucherov contract means that Tampa Bay will have $32.625 million in cap space tied up with four players – Kucherov, Stamkos, Ryan Callahan, and Victor Hedman – through 2019-2020 and beyond.

Anton Stralman, Brayden Coburn and Dan Girardi are slated to be unrestricted free agents come 2019-2020, while Callahan can hit free agency in 2020-2021.

According to reports, the Lightning are also (along with the Dallas Stars) interested in defenceman Erik Karlsson with the possibility of a trade in the works. With Stralman, Coburn and Girardi to play with, the Kucherov deal solidifies them with respect to making a swap.

“I’m truly grateful to sign this contract extension to keep me in Tampa for the next eight seasons today,” Kucherov said. “I’d like to thank the Lightning organization and all of the fans for the support since making the Bay Area my home.”

The forward is coming off a career year in 2017-2018, with 100 points in 80 games – including 39 goals and 61 assists. He had 36 points on the power play, including eight goals.

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