26-Year-Old Center – Washington Capitals
Evgeny Kuznetsov Contract Information:
Signed an eight-year, $62.4 million extension with the Capitals in July 2017.
Kuznetsov indicated that it was his shoulder that was injured in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals and will not require surgery, Tarik El-Bashir of NBC Sports Washington reports.
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Evgeny Kuznetsov: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Kuznetsov busted out last year for an extraordinary 77-point breakout campaign, but it ended in disappointment when he went the final 20 games of the regular season without scoring a goal, then offered up just two points in 12 playoff games. Thatís no small part of the reason that the Caps Ė considered one of the top contenders for the Stanley Cup Ė got bumped in the second round by the eventual championship-winning Penguins. Nonetheless, itís hard for those who drafted the Russian center to complain, as he rewarded his fantasy owners in spades, finishing among the league leaders in rating with a plus-27 to go with his 20 goals and 57 helpers. Now itís on the playmaking center to show he can do it again Ė and with Washington returning most of its roster from last year, there doesnít seem to be any reason he wonít. Perhaps Kuznetsov will see a small downtick in scoring if Nicklas Backstrom stays healthy all year, but the 24-year-old Russian could also see a sizeable uptick if he ends up skating on the No. 1 line alongside goal-scoring extraordinaire Alex Ovechkin. But thatís all a matter of degrees; no matter how the playing time shakes out, this is a great time to own Kuznetsov in fantasy.
Hallelujah Ė the Capsí second-line center problem has been solved. Or so it seems. Kuznetsov scuffled early in the season, delivering 24 points in his first 63 games and looking nothing like a first-round pick (or a second-line center, for that matter). But something happened in March Ė a light bulb went on for the creative center. He delivered 13 points in his last 17 games and added another seven in 14 playoff games. Those seven actually came in a nine-game stretch. So has the breakout occurred, or is it actually in progress? We think itís the latter Ė Kuznetsovís still got a lot to learn. He isnít exactly good in the faceoff circle or his own zone, and his possession numbers are a work in progress (to the say the least). But heíll have better linemates this season -- perhaps including Justin Williams, a guy who makes those around him better -- and should be expected to continue developing into an offensive force.
The toast of the town upon his arrival late in the season, Kuznetsov wasted no time in reinvigorating a fanbase in desperate need of hope. Despite playing mostly fourth-line minutes, the highly skilled winger from Russia managed nine points in his first 17 games. Having bulked up and honed his offensive skills in the KHL, the 22-year-old is poised for a greater role with the Capitals this season. Hoping he can fill the void left by Mikhail Grabovskiís departure in free agency, Kuznetsov will likely get a crack as the teamís second-line center, a position he has some familiarity with. With the size, speed, and offensive skills fans drool over, Kuznetsov has excellent sleeper potential and is an early favorite to challenge for the Calder Trophy in 2014-2015.
Kuznetsov, 21 is the best prospect in the Capitals system. He had a solid year with Chelyabinsk (KHL) with 44 points in 51 games. Kuznetsov was added 42 PIM which underscored a new toughness in his game, a most welcomed development. Kuznetsov has just one year left on his KHL contract and he fully intends to play for Washington in 2014-15. Kuznetsov is a true blue chip prospect who should be owned in all keeper leagues.
One of the stars of last winter's World Junior Championships, Kuznetsov's place in North American hockey this coming season was the subject of much debate. Would the immensely talented center join the Capitals or would he remain in Russia, playing professionally in he KHL? Kuznetsov signed a two-year deal with Traktor Chelyabinsk to remain in the KHL through the 2014 season. He remains one of the best hockey players currently not in the NHL, as the Caps would love to have him in the District.
The most recent comparison Kuznetsov received was that of fellow Russian Evgeni Malkin. That is what his head coach sees, so for the Caps if that is pretty accurate they seem to have another Russian star in the making. He made the all-star game in the KHL and was the youngest player to ever be selected. He still has a year left on his contract in the KHL, but when this kid gets his chance he has all the potential to be a star.
Kuznetsov was the first round selection in this past NHL entry draft, continuing the Russian connection. He is talented enough to play in the NHL, but he has a few years remaining on his contract in the KHL and that will give him some time to improve those skills. He will be in the NHL in the coming years though.