Kuznetsov during a National Team camp last year. (Photo credit: Anton Sergienko/Sport-Express)

Washington Capitals top prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov was named one of 35 players to Russia’s National Team camp, which will be held at the site of next year’s Winter Olympics, Sochi. The two-day camp, running from August 23rd to August 24th, will also feature Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, as well as former Caps players Semyon Varlamov and Alexander Semin.

Kuznetsov, a late addition to Russia’s World Championship team in the Spring, exclusively talked to Alexey Shevchenko of Olympic Team Russia’s official site about the honor and tried to temper his expectations for next year.

Can I congratulate you?

Sure! Even though it’s an extended list, but I’m a candidate to play at the Olympics and that’s an achievement. Everyone understands that participating in the Olympics, especially at home, is a peak of an athlete’s career. Now everything will depend on me, on the level of play I’ll show by February.

There are only 16 KHL players from the KHL on the list. It’s not a lot, right?

Maybe in five to seven years we would be able to build a team of players who play in Russia and that’s how it looks now. But we need to be unbiased and understand that every player from the NHL can play well in the KHL and our strongest guys are across the pond. So there’s nothing bad about this proportion.

Did you follow the negotiations between the NHL and IIHF regarding NHLers participating in 2014 Games.

Not too much, but I was sure it was going to end well. I’m happy guys from North America are going to come to Sochi. With them on the ice it’ll be great hockey to watch.

But if there would be no NHL players, the Russian team would probably have a better chance to win gold.

But that wouldn’t be a real Olympics then, too.

The team will only come to Sochi [for camp] for two days. Is it needed?

I’ll be happy to. We need to get filled with the Olympic mood, understand that the whole country expects us to win. It’ll also be interesting to see the venues. Also, just being around those great players helps.

Bilyaletdinov basically named the extended list of candidates to the Olympic team. How will players feel playing at the EuroHockeyTour. Knowing that they won’t go to Sochi, they’ll have to hit the ice in the tournament of little meaning.

Life isn’t over after the Olympics. There will be other tournaments after that, but when you get the call from the National Team, that’s an acknowledgement of your achievements. And keep in mind there’s still time until February. There may be injuries on the list then someone can make a good impression and make the team.

  • THEOLDROT

    The Olympic team, if he makes it, will be as close to the NHL as Kuznetsov ever gets. He ain’t comin’, folks. Russians are just unreliable.

  • Ralph

    I understand that Caps fans are pessimistic, but Kuznetsov would be the first high-profile Russian that hasn’t at least given the NHL a go. He could end up like Burmistrov or Filatov and leave, but those two struggled a lot, too–Kuznetsov certainly hasn’t been rushed into the league. He could end up like Radulov and leave, but I think after Radulov left the NHL and KHL reached some sort of understanding where players can’t play in one league when they have a valid contract in the other (lockouts excepted). As it is, the IIHF would suspend him. (Radulov was grandfathered in, so the rule didn’t apply to him.)

    I’d be surprised if he doesn’t spend at least two years here (two-year ELC).

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    “Russians are just unreliable.” – a commenter on website called “Russian Machine Never Breaks”