Evgeny Kuznetsov did not have an otherworldly type year like he did one season ago, but he is still a bonafide NHL star and – like pretty much the entire roster – he’s about to get paid this summer.
|16:57||time on ice per game|
|53.6||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage, adjusted|
|62.0||5-on-5 goal percentage, adjusted|
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah Blake McCurdy of hockeyviz.com shows various metrics for the player over the course of the 2016-17 season. A short description of each chart:
Kuznetsov came into this season with high expectations figuratively taped to his back like one of those ‘kick me’ signs that kids used to get me with back in middle school. It’s no secret to Caps fans or hockey fans in general just how good the young Russian center was one season prior. He finished top ten in points, top five in assists, led the league in primary assists and was just generally pure magic with the puck on his stick. I think we can all agree that on an even deeper team up front this season, and one that got tremendously lucky when it comes to injuries, #92’s role shrunk a bit, impacting his base stats.
At just face value a drop from 57 assists and 77 overall points to just 40 assists and 59 points seems almost sudden and maybe even a bit worrying. On the other hand, Kuznetsov saw improvements in both his 5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage and in his 5-on-5 goal percentage. A once-puzzling case when it comes to possession has virtually been solved. All that being said, I definitely think that Kuzy went through a couple dry spells production-wise this season, but in regards to the future, I don’t see him really having an issue reaching that 70-point plateau again and then extending upon it. Hell, we even saw him be depended on to succeed in defensive match-ups in the playoffs and actually come through in spectacular fashion at some stages. Who would have ever thought that sentence would have been written?
Another point that I would like to bring up is the fact that Kuzy came in 8th on the team when it comes to power-play time on ice per game, 6th among forwards. I am of the opinion that the current Caps power play has become a bit stale, which we saw across the regular season and definitely in the playoffs in some games. Obviously, Nicklas Backstrom should go absolutely nowhere from his half-wall office, but I really would like to see Kuznetsov get almost Ovechkin-like minutes on the man advantage in the future. If you had to build a hockey player from scratch to succeed with increased time and space and encouraged time to be creative, you’d basically build Evgeny Kuznetsov, so why not capitalize (lol) on the dude’s main strengths?
Here comes the whole money, contract, kind of scary part. After being in my honest opinion, the best Capitals player in the entirety of the 13 games that the Capitals played this postseason and after posting another relatively successful offensive regular season, ya boy Kuzy is about to get paid probably more than any other free agent that the Capitals will bring back or into the club this summer. Here are contract comparables (with AAV standing for average annual value) for similar players in similar situations in the past to Kuzy:
Man, that Forsberg contract is fantastic. In reality though, I would love to see Kuzy on the same deal as Monahan or Stepan. He’s an integral piece to any future success the Capitals plan to have and should be locked up long term after another pretty damn good season in DC.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 29, 2016
How much of the Capitals’ future success do you think is on the shoulders of young Kuzy? What kind of contract are you hoping he receives this summer?
Headline photo: Amanda Bowen
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