Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov is one of the most offensively-gifted players in the entire National Hockey League. The 30-year-old Russian is a two-time all-star in the league and has recorded four 70-plus point seasons in his career.
So, it’s safe to say he knows a good hockey player when he sees one.
Kuzy was asked by former Caps forward Andrei Nikolishin, during a “Slippery Ice” interview, to name who he believes are the three best players currently plying their trade in the NHL.
“(Auston) Matthews, (Connor) McDavid, and the third will be difficult,” Kuznetsov said via a Google Translation. “I would do – Matthews, McDavid, and Brayden Point. I would put all three.”
The first two names that Kuzy listed are quite obvious ones as Matthews and McDavid are the two most recent Hart Trophy winners which is the award given out to the league’s MVP. Matthews scored 60 goals for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season and is a big fan of Kuznetsov’s in his own right. McDavid has recorded back-to-back 100-plus point seasons and is well on his way to another this season.
“McDavid – obviously, he’s from another planet,” Kuznetsov said. “Now everyone about (Erling) Haaland from Manchester City says, ‘He is not a man, he is not a man.’ You look here and understand what kind of alien we are playing with.”
The Haaland that Kuzy speaks of is the Norwegian monster superstar terrorizing the English Premier League this season with 18 goals in just 13 appearances on the soccer pitch for Manchester City. Similarly, McDavid already has 15 goals in just 17 games this year for the Edmonton Oilers.
While Kuznetsov agrees with Nikolishin that McDavid is the fastest player in the league, he says Matthews dominates in a different, more “technical” fashion.
“And Matthews – he has flair,” Kuznetsov said. “He does not seem to be pushing fast, but when there is a moment – a goal. He has a vision for hockey.”
However, it was the third player, Tampa Bay’s Point, that Kuznetsov listed that was most interesting to Nikolishin. “Do you like the way Point plays?” the former Cap asked.
“Yes,” Kuznetsov replied. “It seems to me that he doesn’t care at all if he will score, he won’t score. He will always plow, work, drag the puck into the zone. He is not greedy, he will always give back. He doesn’t do too much and skates great. His thinking is hockey. Kucherov was lucky – they have a connection like they always see each other with their eyes closed.”
Point played a massive role in Tampa Bay’s run of back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2020 and 2021. In those postseasons, he tallied 56 points in 46 playoff games. His 2018-19 season was arguably even better as he recorded single-season, career highs in goals (41) and total points (92).
The 26-year-old, one-time NHL all-star has yet to be recognized with any individual silverware so far in his career but he’ll at least have the admiration of one of his best peers in Kuznetsov.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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