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Washington finally signs top prospect Kuznetsov

Mar 8, 2014, 1:16 PM EDT

kuznetsov 2 Getty Images

The Washington Capitals have had to wait a long time to get Evgeny Kuznetsov, but they are finally able to announce that they have inked the 21-year-old forward to an entry-level contract.

Kuznetsov was taken with the 26th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, but until now he had been playing for the KHL’s Chelyabinsk Traktor. Although he has no experience playing professionally in North America, he’s likely to head straight for Washington rather than the minors.

Since Washington drafted him, Kuznetsov has emerged as one of the KHL’s best players, scoring 46 goals and 105 points in 131 games over the last three seasons. He ranked sixth in the KHL’s scoring race in 2012-13.

He’s also served internationally for Russia, leading the nation to a World Junior’s gold medal in 2011 with 11 points in seven contests and a World Championships’ gold in 2012 with six points in 10 games.

The Capitals are likely going to look to captain Alex Ovechkin to take Kuznetsov under his wing in the hopes that he can make a smooth transition while Washington continues its fight for a playoff spot.

Update: He will make his NHL debut on Monday, per TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

  1. govtminion - Mar 8, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    OK, you got him on board. Good. Now let’s see if he’s going to be any good, or if he’s another Alex Radulov- a great talent who finally comes over to the NHL and just doesn’t do anything.

    Don’t get me wrong- I hope he’s everything Caps fans say he’ll be. I’m just skeptical for now.

    • vm113 - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:16 PM

      This guy is not the same player or person as Rad. He has an all around game and a good head on his shoulders. He has the makeup to succeed as a star player in the NHL. Im not a Caps fan but i’ve watched Kuz play when he was younger and he reminded me of a Datsyuk/Malkin hybrid so Im interested in seeing how he’s going to look in the first stages of his NHL career.

      • c9castine - Mar 8, 2014 at 6:06 PM

        We’ll you just named the two best sets of hands in the league so even as a pens fan i hope your right.

    • babykaby - Mar 9, 2014 at 1:37 AM

      Yeah, let’s start out with nothing but negativity. What is wrong with people? The guy has a big adjustment to make, if you expect him to be great his first few times out you are just setting yourself up for disappointment. Everyone takes time to adjust moving from one job to another even if it is just doing the same job in a new place with different coworkers. Look at St louie, he wasn’t so impressive in his first game with NY and he’s been playing in the nhl for years. Give the kid a break and a little time before you start dumping your Debbie Downer views on him.

      • govtminion - Mar 9, 2014 at 11:25 AM

        That’s valid. Let me explain.

        I live in the Washington D.C. area, and I’m a rabid fan of hockey- but not of the Capitals. I have no issue with them, I’m just not a fan either (I’m a transplanted Bruins/Avalanche fan). Since the Caps are the local coverage, I end up seeing a lot about them in the news, and since they’re the usual broadcasts and I’m too poor to get Gamecenter, I end up watching their games to get my hockey fix more often than not.

        For years now, I’ve been listening to Caps fans, broadcasters, etc. explain to me that the team is struggling, but it all will change when this Kuznetsov kid arrives- he’s that good, he’ll turn everything around. He just… never comes. There was always a reason for him to stay, another reason to not report to the NHL, maybe next year, so on and so forth. Now he’s finally coming.

        I haven’t seen this kind of buzz around one guy in a long time. The hype around here about Kuznetsov is electric, Caps fans are genuinely excited. What I want is for him to be everything the local fans are hoping he’ll be, because anything less will be a crushing disappointment for a lot of fans. And there’s no shortage of cautionary tales of hyped players who end up being unworthy of all that pre-career praise, I’m sure you’ll admit.

        So, I wouldn’t say I’m negative. Just trying to remain realistic in the face of overwhelming optimism.

  2. angrytwitterguy - Mar 8, 2014 at 1:20 PM

    Just what the Caps need, another Russian

    • vm113 - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:22 PM

      Well, if they had more Russians of the kind they have now that would make them one of the most dangerous teams in the league so…

      • angrytwitterguy - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:58 PM

        Funny, I just seen an entire team full of them, and they flopped when it counted too

      • angrytwitterguy - Mar 8, 2014 at 3:54 PM

        Cap fans don’t like the fact that Ovy sucked the last two times he’s had something to play for.

        2 points in 7 games in his last playoff, and an Olympic flop.

        And sorry I must laugh at the idea that a team with bad coaching, weak goalies and poor D would ever be considered dangerous.

        Caps suck

  3. smarshall3789 - Mar 8, 2014 at 1:33 PM

    I think this kid will make it he’s not radulov who came over here with a big ego! He’s a kid willing to learn and check himself at the door welcome to the big league kid!

  4. nunan - Mar 8, 2014 at 1:33 PM

    I like when these highly touted players finally sign. Although he’s only 21. Soderberg didn’t sign until he was 28 or something. Hasn’t been that long.

  5. bmoreredfury311 - Mar 8, 2014 at 1:35 PM

    Still doesn’t solve the defensive hole this team has, but he will hopefully bring more offence and SHOTS! that has lacked in the resent game. Glad to see this finally happen, but i don’t think its going to change anything for D.C. this season. Regardless, whatever happens this season, McPhee needs to go and Ted needs to wake the F up and realize that.

  6. flyersfan67 - Mar 8, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    Good way to ruin a kid, have him follow the lead from a selfish, lazy ovechkin

    • patthehockeyfan - Mar 8, 2014 at 1:54 PM

      Good way to teach a kid. Have him follow the lead of the NHL’s top goal scorer.

      • drewsylvania - Mar 8, 2014 at 5:44 PM

        Ovechkin might be the worst defensive forward in the league. Nobody wants a player that one-dimensional to mentor other players.

    • 19to77 - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:21 PM

      So lazy he’s won three of the last six Rocket Richards and is a couple months away from notching a fourth. Oh, and that small pile of Harts he’s accumulated too. God, what a lazy jerkoff he is for not carrying the entire Capitals organization on his back. Oh, wait, he does.

      • vm113 - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:26 PM

        God, what a lazy jerkoff he is for not carrying the entire Capitals organization on his back .Oh, wait, he does.——Yea, until the going gets tough, then where is your superhero? I use to be Ovie’s biggest supporter, but after watching his gutless performance in the Olympics I can no longer look at him the same.

      • bohman88 - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:36 PM

        I forgot Russia’s Olympic team featured Ovechkin and no one else

      • vm113 - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:45 PM

        You must forgot a lot of things(like brain power) if your stupid enough to utter dumb ass excuses like that.

      • bohman88 - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:53 PM

        I’m acknowledging the fact that it’s a team effort and he wasn’t the only player with a poor attitude. A good portion on team USA looked like utter douche bags in the bronze medal game. I must have forgot you are perfect and have never been discouraged. Am I saying it’s ok for him to give up (if that is truthfully what happend)? No, but I can’t blame him at the same time. Getting embarrassed like that before even touching the medal rounds has to hurt. People want the man to do everything. Last time I checked you have to play with a little heart to have a 10+ goal lead in the scoring race. Also, Malkin came out and publicly expressed his displeasure with team Russia and the coaching this year. I’m guessing you missed that one.

  7. joey4id - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    According to reports he may be another defensive liability. Will not be a good fit if he plays with 8.

    “Known for his offensive flair, Kuznetsov is considered one of Russia’s best skaters and can pass and shoot as well as any player in Europe. He’s also strong along the boards but could use work with his defensive play.”

    • lowenni - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:50 PM

      The Ovechkin line isn’t used for defensive play, it’s used to score goals. If Kuzy could be at his best alongside Backstrom and Ovi the amount of goals they would score would outnumber those they let in on that line, and if they have the puck the other team can’t score as well. He may work out on the second line instead, but I don’t think Dustin Penner would do any better with defensive responsibilities on that top line. Most of the Caps top-6 besides Johansson and Backstrom could use “work with their defensive play”.

      • joey4id - Mar 8, 2014 at 3:51 PM

        Well! That’ pretty obvious considering Ovi can’t play 200 feet. Plus he is by far the best goal scorer and number 1 point producer. Yet! He’s been on the ice for the most goals against compared to anybody else on this team. These are not speculations. Saying “the amount of goals they would score would outnumber those they let in on that line” is pure speculation. How much more puck position time can a 21 year old rookie add anyways? Not enough to make a difference. We’re not talking about with Getzlaf/Perry here.

    • angrytwitterguy - Mar 8, 2014 at 4:05 PM

      What Joey, why haven’t you logged into Valo/Blomfeld/slysipops/aldog83 to thumbs up yourself and then agree with everything you said?

      Funny how the moment you expose one of his accounts that account goes silent for a spell.

      Why are you still here?
      Posting your thoughts to a bunch of people who think you’re a freak is funny stuff. Some loser yammering about this and that while the vast majority just thumbs down you and doesn’t bother replying.

      Because really? Who wants to have a discussion with some mental case who pretends he has insider sources and then get exposed as a liar and fraud, and then compounds that fact with getting busted for multiple active user accounts as well?

      • bethgoesglobal - Mar 8, 2014 at 4:32 PM

        I’m sorry but you’re writing about yourself, aren’t you?
        Your ranting here makes you seem like a bit of a mental case yourself.

      • angrytwitterguy - Mar 8, 2014 at 4:50 PM

        Caps suck, Wild suck, The Muppets suck, Sesame sucks, Holtby sucks, Huff post sucks, RGIII sucks, Joe Biden sucks, The Atlantic sucks.

        Colbert and Stewart don’t

      • angrytwitterguy - Mar 8, 2014 at 4:51 PM

        Oh nose jobs don’t suck….

  8. gocaps8 - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    You wouldn’t play him with Ovi unless you move Backstrom to another line. Kuzya is RW but can play C. Caps really need net presence on top two lines…they have been too soft. Put Penner with the youngsters and Wilson will develop faster on the top line.

    Id like to see the top two lines as:

    Wilson-Backstrom-Ovechkin
    Penner-Johansson-Kuznetsov

    Or, Grabo for Johansson when healthy.

    • vm113 - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:28 PM

      Kuz is a natural center. He’ll be a Selke candidate one day. Back and Kuz will give you guys one hell of a 1-2 punch in the near future.

      • vm113 - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:41 PM

        He’ll be a Selke candidate one day.—–That is of course if Wash(and Ovie) do not ruin his development and make him into a shoot first ask questions later type of player. I would be worried about that if I was a Caps fan.

      • lowenni - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:51 PM

        I think Kuzy is gonna be a great player…but he’s not gonna be a Selke candidate one day. I think he’ll be a good 2-way player, but that may be pushing it for a guy who’s been criticized on his defensive play a lot.

  9. bethgoesglobal - Mar 8, 2014 at 4:44 PM

    He’s only 21. What makes so many people think that his defensive abilities can’t improve. MoJo wasn’t the best defensively when he first started here but he’s come a long way since then. Shouldn’t we give him a season or so before we start type casting him?

  10. vfv34454 - Mar 8, 2014 at 6:06 PM

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