Mar 9, 2014, 11:30 AM EST
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.
Dec 22, 2014, 8:00 AM EST
Monday’s collection of links.
Dec 22, 2014, 12:16 AM EST
He’s the oldest goalie to win his debut since Hugh Lehman in 1926.
Dec 21, 2014, 10:38 PM EST
Buffalo suffered its third straight loss.
Dec 21, 2014, 10:07 PM EST
Toronto has lost three straight games.
Dec 21, 2014, 9:42 PM EST
Will this be the worst season Edmonton has ever had?
Dec 21, 2014, 9:09 PM EST
Varlamov is expected to be back on Tuesday.
Dec 21, 2014, 8:17 PM EST
Bartkowski received a game misconduct.
Dec 21, 2014, 7:39 PM EST
The Stars swapping goaltenders didn’t slow Edmonton.
Dec 21, 2014, 6:48 PM EST
He had been playing with Patrick Kane and Kris Versteeg.
Dec 21, 2014, 5:56 PM EST
The Hurricanes are getting close to full strength.
Dec 21, 2014, 5:00 PM EST
Will Calvin Pickard be sent to the minors once Varlamov is healthy?
Dec 21, 2014, 3:45 PM EST
Rob Zepp makes NHL debut
Dec 21, 2014, 3:00 PM EST
Collapsed on the team’s bench Saturday night.
Dec 21, 2014, 2:15 PM EST
Was fired by the Oilers Dec. 15.
Dec 21, 2014, 1:30 PM EST
The 33-year-old was recalled Friday.
Dec 21, 2014, 12:45 PM EST
The Penguins forward was penalized twice for embellishment on Saturday.
Dec 21, 2014, 12:00 PM EST
Torrey Mitchell and Tyson Strachan have been placed on IR
Dec 21, 2014, 11:15 AM EST
They’re not impressed with how Bylsma and his staff were treated.
Dec 21, 2014, 10:30 AM EST
He called it “no big deal”
Dec 21, 2014, 9:45 AM EST
Had just one goal in eight games prior to the injury.
- Flyers rally as Zepp wins his career debut at 33 years old 11
- Oilers squander three-goal lead, lose 18th time in 19 games 10
- Pickard makes one last bid to stay, beats Wings in nine-round SO 5
- Video: Bartkowski delivers controversial hit to Gionta, fights Foligno 28
- Giroux line takes Leafs ‘to school’ in Flyers’ 7-4 victory 17
- Wolverine Pacioretty gets two assists just two days after being hospitalized 18
- Ovechkin scores beauty as Caps shutout Devils 8
- Seriously? Stress fracture sidelines Columbus’ Jenner for 1-2 months 6
- Julien chides Bruins’ offense for too many cute plays 40
- Sens roll over Ducks, who ‘weren’t ready’ 11