Photo credit: Chris Gordon
On Monday, the Capitals announced they had signed Evgeny Kuznetsov to a two-year, $6 million contract.
“I’m very happy to be here two more years,” Kuznetsov told reporters in a conference room at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, adding that talks originally centered around a longer deal.
“It’s probably good for me and good for the Caps too,” the Russian forward said of his so-called bridge deal. “I have two more years to show my hockey. It’s always motivation for you when have one, two years. Maybe long contract is good too but I’ve never been in that situation.”
After being drafted by Washington in the first round of the 2010 NHL draft, Kuznetsov chose to stay in the KHL for four years before coming over to North America at the end of last year on a two-year, entry-level deal. While Kuznetsov’s first nine months with the Caps were unremarkable, he improved as he adjusted to a smaller rink and a new position at center. In 36 games following the All Star break this year, Kuznetsov tallied 22 points. He was a revelation in the 2015 playoffs, with five goals off remarkable individual efforts.
While he turned into a star at the end of last season and looks to anchor Washington’s second line during the upcoming campaign, Kuznetsov’s biggest contribution — at least when it comes to our traffic — is his adorableness. He displayed that Tuesday when talking about his new daughter, Ecenia.
“I tell my wife, ‘Whatever you want. Just tell me what kind. Couple choices, that’s it,” Kuznetsov said when asked how he chose the little girl’s name. “It’s pretty easy.”
As for his summer plans, Kuznetsov seems to be focusing on making himself comfortable in Washington. He found a new apartment for his family and has spent the summer training with Capitals’ strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish, saying it’s the most time he’s ever spent in a team’s training facility.
“We played good hockey and we have to play better and I have to be better too, try to focus on my job,” Kuznetsov said. “I have lots of area where I have to practice.”
Kuznetsov, though, also has smaller goals for the summer.
“We’ll find a couple good area where we have a chance to walk with daughter,” he said. “Finally maybe we’ll go to Capitol.”
Once the season starts, his parents will finally get to visit their new granddaughter.
“It’s not easy to fly from my town to here for old people like my parents,” Kuznetsov said of the delay.
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