Photo credit: hctraktor.org
When will Evgeny Kuznetsov sign on the dotted line and bring his hockey skills to Washington? Over the last three years we have been treated to many versions of Kuzya’s answer to this question, sometimes just a few hours apart. Lately, everybody– including Zhenya himself– seems to have settled on the consensus opinion: the upcoming season will Kuznetsov’s last in Chelyabinsk. The only remaining question was whether Kuznetsov would join the Caps organization in the spring of 2014 after Traktor’s season ends or if fans in Washington would have to wait until next fall for him to put on a red sweater.
Not so fast.
As Team Russia concluded their tour of Olympic facilities in Sochi, the players did their best to give non-controversial answers to rather bland questions from the media. And then Kuzya re-opened the Should I Stay Or Should I Go? debate during an interview with the TEAM RUSSIA-2014 portal.
For this season you are a Traktor player, right?
My contract with Traktor is valid for another year, and then my dream is to make it to the NHL. Try myself there. I think it would be wrong for me to stay in Russia after the 2013-14 season. I will think about what to do next. Maybe there will be offers from other teams. Now Traktor started negotiations about a new contract. It is already being discussed. If I were to stay in Russia, it would be for five years or so on a new contract.
What position is Washington taking regarding you?
They have been trying for two years to convince me to come. Every year I tell them [I'll come] tomorrow. Next time I probably will not say that. I really want to go play in the NHL.
During the Worlds there was information regarding your transfer to Dynamo Moscow.
Nobody from Dynamo approached me. No one talked to me about this.
But nobody asked Nichushkin either.
Maybe there were some conversations about me, because the information did come from somewhere. Had I received such offer, I would definitely give it a thought. I am a civilized person, I can talk. I would talk with the family and the team. And such transfer could happen, why not? Traktor could have been very happy to sell me in order to make money. Life is unpredictable, you always have to make choices.
So basically, Kuznetsov thinks it would be wrong to stay in Russia– unless of course it’s on a new long-term deal! And the next time the Caps reach out to him, he promises not to tell them to call back later. Maybe.
As Kuzya observes, life is unpredictable. But if there is anything we can predict with certainty, it is that this saga won’t end until Kuznetsov and the Capitals have an entry-level contract signed. Or even better, maybe someone will give the youngster some good advice and tell him that his words actually mean things.