Evgeny Kuznetsov Is a Game-Changing Addition to Washington Capitals
After months of speculation as to when he would come to play with the Washington Capitals, Evgeny Kuznetsov is now officially on his way to the NHL. This move was made possible because Traktor Chelyabinsk terminated the 21-year-old’s contract before the Apr. 30 date it was supposed to expire, and it provides the Capitals with a game-changing force who could surpass any of the NHL Trade Deadline deals that general manager George McPhee made.
Kuznetsov will bring to the table another elite-level forward to a Capitals stable that already includes Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Dustin Penner, Marcus Johansson and the injured Mikhail Grabovski. The 21-year-old will be sure to turn heads in the offensive end of the ice, as he has great skating ability, a playmaker’s eye, soft hands and above average shooting ability. Over the last three years he has combined to score 45 goals and put up 105 points in 130 KHL games, showing that he can score at a very high level of play with consistency.
Slotting into the Capitals’ current line setup, it seems certain that Kuznetsov will begin on the second line, and a spot at center looks likely considering how bad Johansson has been in the face-off circle. The thought of those two lining up with Penner and a first line composed of Ovechkin, Backstrom and Troy Brouwer would be one of the deepest top-six forward units in the NHL. When you combine this with a potential third line made up of Jason Chimera, Eric Fehr and Joel Ward you have an offensive unit that surely should improve from a current ranking of tenth in the NHL in goals per game and could simply score their way to the playoffs.
Currently the Capitals sit one point out of the last playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, but they are certainly now set up to plow their way into the playoffs and make some noise when they get there. The addition of Kuznetsov is the icing on the cake of a successful last week of roster moves, as they now have a stacked offensive unit and a two-headed monster in net with Braden Holtby and the recently added Jaroslav Halak. Now if they can just get their defensive unit on track, this will be amongst the most prepared teams to win the Stanley Cup.