Mar 9, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT
Evgeny Kuznetsov said it was his “dream” to play in the NHL, but he casually shrugged off the notion that he might feel any pressure when the question was raised in his press conference Sunday morning after signing an entry-level with the Washington Capitals.
“I’m excited,” Kuznetsov said.
He was similarly dismissive about the notion that going from the KHL to North America’s smaller ice would require a major adjustment on his part.
“After first minute, no problem.” He added, “A good hockey player, it doesn’t matter where you play; big ice, small ice.”
In fact, what seemed to intimidate him the most was just the fact that he was giving an interview in English.
“When I come yesterday, first my interview in English, I’m not ready, today my second interview. I’m a little scared,” he admitted, laughing sheepishly. For what it’s worth, he seems to already have a decent command of the language, although he did occasionally stop to talk to a translator.
While he certainly seems loose, there’s no question that expectations will be high for him. That’s the case for any first round pick, but after Washington took him with the 26th overall selection in 2010, the hype about him has only been mounting as he’s excelled in the KHL.
Now he’ll be asked to join a team in the stretch run of a battle for a playoff spot. Mere days after traveling halfway across the world and with no professional hockey experience in this continent, he will likely be asked to play against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday.
“We don’t want to put him in a situation he can’t handle right now,” Capitals coach Adam Oates, per CSN Washington. “But in saying that, if we can spot him in the lineup it could be a nice spark for us.”
He does have that potential, depending on how quickly he makes the transition.
It should help that he’ll have Alex Ovechkin around to guide him. The 21-year-old forward will live with the superstar while he gets settled in. Obviously, Ovechkin has gone through a similar experience, but the two have also stayed in frequent contact while Kuznetsov was playing in the KHL.
You can watch the full video of his press conference at the Monumental Network.
Jul 27, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT
He last played in 2001 with the Edmonton Oilers.
Jul 27, 2014, 8:05 PM EDT
He’s played four full seasons there already.
Jul 27, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT
He has a few guys that can help make it happen there.
Jul 27, 2014, 5:20 PM EDT
He was their final restricted free agent.
Jul 27, 2014, 3:54 PM EDT
He emerged as the team’s No. 2 center last season.
Jul 27, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT
That adds another layer to the Flames’ goaltending competition.
Jul 27, 2014, 1:31 PM EDT
He has played in 132 NHL games.
Jul 27, 2014, 12:20 PM EDT
It led to him having a minor procedure.
Jul 27, 2014, 11:11 AM EDT
He’ll enter training camp with a shot of making the team.
Jul 27, 2014, 10:06 AM EDT
“I can be a lot better.”
Jul 27, 2014, 8:55 AM EDT
He’s the last RFA left for them to re-sign.
Jul 26, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
We’ve hit that part of free agency.
Jul 26, 2014, 9:57 PM EDT
They’re both eligible to become free agents next summer.
Jul 26, 2014, 8:20 PM EDT
They had the league’s third-worst unit last season.
Jul 26, 2014, 6:50 PM EDT
He’s scheduled for arbitration on Friday.
Jul 26, 2014, 5:50 PM EDT
It’ll be his third team in the past year.
Jul 26, 2014, 4:36 PM EDT
He was injured during World Championships in May.
Jul 26, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT
Reggie vs. Gustl: who you got?
Jul 26, 2014, 2:08 PM EDT
Can they compromise by Tuesday?
Jul 26, 2014, 1:05 PM EDT
Positive updates following a scary situation.
- Cashing in: Rangers sign Brassard to five-year, $25 million deal 38
- Subban not eager to discuss contract talks 33
- Leafs re-sign Reimer — two years, $4.6 million 21
- Gorges still can’t explain falling out of favor in Montreal 13
- Eller, Habs agree to four-year, $14 million contract 10
- Cory Sarich hospitalized following cycling accident, expects ‘full recovery’ 7
- Stamkos shrugs off talk of LeBron-like homecoming to Toronto in 2016 31
- Avs and O’Reilly agree on two-year deal, but questions remain 45
- Rangers and Kreider avoid arbitration, agree on two-year deal 39
- Zuccarello takes Rangers’ one year, $3.5M deal 42
- NBC Sports to air over 100 NHL regular-season games in 2014-15 (69)
- Vanek connected to federal gambling investigation (61)
- Report: O’Reilly wants $6.7M deal, Avs counter at $5.5M (58)
- Return that toaster: Ovechkin-Kirilenko engagement broken off (54)
- Avs and O’Reilly agree on two-year deal, but questions remain (45)