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The Kuznetsov Factor
Evgeny Kuznetsov (Caps Outsider)
While the Washington Capitals hang in limbo waiting for the Stanley Cup playoffs to end to approach formidable candidates for the GM and head coaching positions, fans are left wondering who will fill those vacant cogs, the carnage of last season’s wheel of misfortune. Fans are still shaking their heads and trying to come to terms with no postseason for the Caps, feeding their sports addiction with baseball and the Wizards moving to the second round of the playoffs. (The Wizards!?) Anyway, all the banter about the Caps continues to center around what went wrong, and the good, the bad and the ugly about Alex Ovechkin. It’s time to focus on something that went right – Evgeny Kutznetsov.
The Capitals first round draft pick in 2010, Kuznetsov made his NHL debut on March 8, 2014. He only played in 17 games but netted 3 goals and 6 assists showing the Caps faithful that he could play with the “big boys.” Born May 19th, 1992, the almost-22-year-old Russian winger played professionally for Traktor Chelyabinsk in the KHL before coming to the US and eventually becoming George McPhee’s swan song.
It didn’t take Kuznetsov long to adapt to the NHL. He’s not only a very skilled player, he’s a smart player with good passing skills and a unique sense of the game. He is a very welcome addition to the Caps roster. Even though he arrived a bit late to help the Caps reach the playoffs this year, he was thrown into the fire and proved that he will be a driving force in the 2014-2015 season.
Kuznetsov is now in Russia preparing to play for the Russian National Team in the 2014 World Championships that take place between May 9-25 in Minsk. He is accompanied by Caps defenseman Dmitry Orlov and, of course, the Russian team captain, our own Alex Ovechkin.
Fans can look forward to big things from this young, enthusiastic hockey player. Now, we’ll just have to wait and see who stays, who else goes and who gets a crack at building a team that can be a contender for the Stanley Cup.