Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s Traktor Chelyabinsk was eliminated from playoff contention a few hours before their game against Ak Bars on Tuesday. It was still a big game for Kuznetsov, who has been treating it as if it would be his last in Chelyabinsk.
This post contains everything we know so far. We’ll be updating throughout the day.
In the morning, Kuznetsov tweeted that “today would be a very difficult day.”
Сегодня будет очень сложный день…. pic.twitter.com/bJaPAlG8TR
— Evgeny Kuznetsov (@Kuzya92) March 4, 2014
Via Fedor Fedin, R-Sport reported that Kuznetsov would leave for Washington after the game.
@rsportru reports Kuznetsov will report to Washington after his team's regular season finishes today.
— Fedor Fedin (@Fedor_Fedin) March 4, 2014
In an english version of their story, R-Sport quotes a source close to Kuznetsov that says:
“Kuznetsov wasn’t going to play in the Cup of Hope matches. He has already bought tickets and after the end of the KHL regular season, he will fly to North America,” the source said.
Via Igor Kleyner, Kuznetsov’s agent later reminded the press that Kuzya was still under KHL contract.
Kuznetsov's agent throws a tiny monkey wrench into #KuzyaWatch equation, reminds everybody Kuzya still under contract with Traktor
— Igor Kleyner (@IgorKleyner) March 4, 2014
Kuznetsov’s agent Valery Gushchin told R-Sport:
“Don’t rush to send Kuznetsov off to the NHL just yet. He is playing against Ak Bars today, then all the questions with Traktor need to be resolved. While he is under contract with Chelyabinsk, Kuznetsov can not leave for Washington. It is too early to to say that Evgeny will play for Washington this season. Is it realistic to settle everything in a day? It is.”
Before the game started, Kuznetsov presented a zamboni with his name on it to Traktor’s hockey academy. According to Sovetsky Sport, the gift’s value is at least 4 million roubles (approximately $100,000).
Ни когда не забывайте от куда вы родом и где выросли…. pic.twitter.com/M6m6uDmdmR
— Evgeny Kuznetsov (@Kuzya92) March 4, 2014
Kuznetsov, said of the gift, “never forget where you were born and grew up.”
Traktor Chelyabinsk named Kuznetsov as a captain before the game. It was the first time he’s ever been captain of the team, and said a week earlier that if that if it happened, it would be a dream come true.
In the second period, Kuznetsov scored a power play goal to put Traktor up 2-1. He went down to one knee and pumped his fist after the goal.
Ak Bars won 3-2 in the shootout. Kuznetsov missed on his only shootout attempt.
11:15 AM Based on the structure of the new CBA, Kuznetsov’s future entry-level deal with Washington will be only for two years because he will be 22-years-old (May 19) before Sep. 15, 2014.
12:10 PM: Ovechkin comments on Kuznetsov to the Caps media after practice.
Ovi on Kuznetsov: “I just talk to him couple minitess ago and he said we’ll see what’s going on. …We just wait.”
— Katie Carrera (@kcarrera) March 4, 2014
The Washington Post’s Katie Carrera has Ovechkin’s full comments.
“I don’t know how he’s going to play on small ice to be honest with you. He’s skilled guy. Of course probably going to need some time to realize what’s happening,” Ovechkin said, acknowledging that it would be an intense stretch of the season to throw Kuznetsov in the lineup with the Capitals vying for a playoff spot.
“I think when you 21 years old you have to understand especially right now when we fight for playoffs and every points counts,” Ovechkin said. “He just have to play his game and help us.”
12:25 PM: Adam Oates speaks about Kuznetsov.
#Caps Oates on Kuznetsov "When I met him he speaks great English. I was shocked how westernized he was…it was a great trip."
— Sky Kerstein (@SkyKersteinFox2) March 4, 2014
Monumental Network has Oates’ full press conference with reporters.
12:35 PM: TSN’s Bob McKenzie shares what he’s hearing about Kuznetsov.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 4, 2014
12:50: Troy Brouwer, clearly grouchy after not having lunch yet, talks about Kuznetsov.
Troy Brouwer on Evgeny Kuznetsov: 'Until he shows up and is here he's none of my concern.' #CapitalsTalk
— Chuck Gormley (@CharlesAGormley) March 4, 2014
Additional reporting and translations by Igor Kleyner.
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