Kuznetsov during the game against Kolner Haie. (Photo credit: Vitaly Gubin/HC Traktor)
Washington Capitals top prospect/prodigal son Evgeny Kuznetsov kicked off his season last week at the Chelyabinsk Region Governor’s Cup, a 4-game preseason tournament which featured two local teams (Traktor Chelyabinsk, Metallurg Chelyabinsk), two KHL teams (Avangard Omsk, Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk), and one foreign team – Kolner Haie of the German DEL.
On Saturday, Kuznetsov showed why he’s one of the best players not currently in the NHL, tallying a shorthanded goal and an assist in Traktor’s 5-1 victory over Kolner Haie, a team coached by former Colorado Avalanche defenseman Uwe Krupp.
Video of Kuzya’s highlight-reel plays are below the jump.
At the 0:24 mark, Kuznetsov, using his high hockey IQ to complete a fancy give-and-go with former Capital Jan Bulis. At the 1:36 mark, after playing some keepaway with his defensemen shorthanded, Kuzya takes a pass, skates into the offensive zone, and blasts a wristshot past Kolner’s goalie high and stickside.
Despite Saturday’s impressive win, Traktor struggled in the tournament, finishing with the worst overall record, 1-3. Kuznetsov played in three of the team’s four games and was held scoreless against Neftekhimik and Metallurg.
On Sunday, Kuznetsov missed Traktor’s final game against Avangard, as he was traveling to Moscow to join the Russian National Team before flying to Switzerland for a week-long training camp. Other notable players participating in the camp include the Capitals’ Dmitry Orlov, the Blue Jackets’ Sergei Bobrovsky and Artem Anisimov, the Panthers’ Dmitry Kulikov, and the Kings’ Andrei Loktionov.
Below, check out two practice shootout attempts that Kuznetsov scored on during the tournament. At least we know he’s still good at these.