Evgeny Kuznetsov is in the building and he is now officially ours for the next two seasons.
You guys, Evgeny Kuznetsov is really here and signed now and every little part of that process is exciting. Such as this photo from the Washington Capitals. The pic, which shows Kuznetsov’s new locker stall at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, received over 3,000 likes in two hours on Instagram.
Let me repeat, a photo of a locker stall and a nameplate. Three thousand likes.
You’re excited. We’re excited. Everyone’s excited. Why? Because it’s finally Kuzya Time.
Let’s do this.
Photo: Nick P.
I thought it was a slam dunk. On Thursday night when I published an article promoting Alex Ovechkin’s appearance at an Alexandria, Virginia Verizon Wireless store, I thought our readers would send us back a bunch of happy stories about meeting The Great Eight.
Many Caps fans battled rush hour traffic on the beltway (some even drove a couple of hours), to make one of Ovechkin’s rare public appearances. Fans brought jerseys, sticks, and photos to get signed. They were excited.
When they got there though, they were told “no photos” and that Ovechkin would sign only a small postcard which basically equated to a Verizon Wireless ad. In some ways, the rules were understandable: a lot of people showed up (reportedly a few hundred) and Verizon wanted to get them all through the line. I get that. But the lack of communication ahead of time by Verizon, destroyed a lot of people’s expectations upon arriving.
For one fan, the most biting moment was when after he was told no photos, he watched as Ovechkin posed inside with all of the Verizon Wireless employees.
Almost four years after he was drafted by the team, Evgeny Kuznetsov has been signed by the Washington Capitals. Drafted 26th overall in 2010, Kuznetsov has stayed in Russia, playing for the KHL’s Traktor Chelyabinsk. For the past year we’ve had indications Kuznetsov would finally be coming over. That came to a head a few days ago when he voided his expiring contract with Traktor after they failed to make the playoffs.
Just after 1 pm today, the Caps announced they had signed the 21-year-old to a two-year entry level contract. Caps GM George McPhee will talk about the signing tonight at Verizon Center. Tomorrow morning at 8, Kuznetsov will take the ice as a member of the Washington Capitals for the first time before addressing the media. He will be wearing his usual number 92.
Photo: Joel Auerbach
The trade deadline got really difficult for some Caps fans on Wednesday when long-time goalie Michal Neuvirth was dealt to the Buffalo Sabres for Jaroslav Halak. It’s understandable if some fans got attached over the years. Neuvirth won Calder Cups in AHL Hershey, honored Olie Kolzig by having an image of him painted on the side of his mask, and forever challenged our assumptions of what a smile is.
On Friday night, Neuvirth took the ice for the first time with the Buffalo Sabres. And it was super weird. Wearing his Capitals-themed mask, Capitals colored pads and gloves, and red, white, and blue stick, Neuvy made 42 saves (one off his career high) in the Sabres 2-0 loss to Roberto Luongo and the Florida Panthers.
Have I mentioned it was weird?
Photo: Chris Gordon
Yesterday Fedor shared a great story about how Tom Wilson is one of the most penalized rookies in the history of the NHL. Wilson has been of particular interest to me since the beginning of the season, when I worried about his OHL/NHL contract status, ruminated about how a rookie might distinguish himself in the NHL, and wondered aloud what his fourth line usage portended for his future. In raking in some of the most penalty minutes ever for a teenage rookie, Wilson kind of answered most of that, but I want to repeat Fedor’s closing:
Maybe other parts of Tom’s game will follow his record-breaking ability to get to the penalty box when he starts playing actual hockey.
That’s really important, I think. Because for all of his 133 PIMs, Wilson has played only 468 minutes total. That’s low even for a fourth liner. It seems at a glance that Wilson hasn’t had a lot of chances to prove himself this season, which may have been a factor in his choices to fight or make iffy hits. He’s gotta make an impression somehow, and he hasn’t been given a chance to do it the traditional way.
If you rank skaters by the quality of their teammates, Tom Wilson is second to last based on ice time and in the bottom 4 percent going by puck possession. Rookie or not, the way Adam Oates has deployed Tom Wilson makes him one the most disadvantaged skaters you’re gonna see.
Kuzya will be leaving for DC without his favorite two homies.
On Thursday, the KHL announced that Evgeny Kuznetsov had worked out a deal with Traktor Chelyabinsk to nullify the last few months of his two-year contract. The agreement allows Kuznetsov to travel to North America and begin his NHL career in Washington. #KuzyaWatch is finally nearing an end.
Sovetsky Sport’s Pavel Lysenkov managed to catch up with Kuzya during these hectic last few days and conducted a short interview with the young prospect. The 21-year-old reveals that he hopes to fly to Washington DC on Sunday or Monday and that he is initially leaving his wife and dog in Russia.
Kuznetsov also explains Traktor’s position on him leaving and hopes that he’ll “catch on for the playoffs with Washington.” Well, if they get there.
Igor Kleyner has your translation.
Bruins beat Caps 3-0.
I don’t really have anything to say. The Caps aren’t good, and their game against the Boston Bruins was awful.
In hindsight, offense might have helped.
But Laich is hurt. So is Grabo. Erskine and Volpatti too. Plus Orlov is suspended. That left the Hershey Bears to fill the ranks: Carrick, Stoa, Brown, Schilling. I don’t want to do the math on if losing Ersk was a bad thing. Doesn’t matter. Even if the Caps didn’t suit up a bunch of sub-NHL players, the Caps aren’t a match for the Bruins.
The whole “let ’em shoot, but keep those shots on the outside” plan failed again. Gregory Campbell got a deflection up front during a delayed penalty, and then Loui Eriksson scored on a turnover from like 0.00214 feet out. Those two goals did nothing to shake the Caps from their torpor. Brad Marchand got the empty netter.
Who wouldn’t want to meet this guy? (Photo: Alex Brandon)
Washington Capitals captain and future hall of famer Alex Ovechkin will be among us mere mortals on Friday. He’ll be (I assume) signing autographs and taking photos from 4-6pm at the new Hybla Valley Verizon Wireless store in Alexandria, Virginia. I am told it’s the store’s grand opening.
This just in: Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov has been released from his KHL contract with Traktor Chelyabinsk. This is another hurdle cleared on his path to Washington.
The Caps have a policy of not discussing players currently under contract to other teams. That no longer applies here. What happens next will be interesting.
The news comes directly from the KHL’s Facebook page.
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