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.

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  • I hope this is just posturing.

  • bskillet

    Get rid of this guy already, he’s a cocky little twerp for never having played a single game in the NHL. Sell him McPhee he’s not worth the BS.

  • Chip

    God this guy is infuriating.

  • Pat

    Really hope this doesnt fuel GMGM to move him this year

  • I’m getting frustrated too, but that’s not a reason to name call. Eventually this cat and mouse game will pay off and it’ll be worth the wait. If it’s this hard for him to leave, imagine how hard it’ll be for him to ever leave when he gets here.

  • When Kuzya did a q/a with Traktor his rookie year, he said his biggest flaw was “talking too much.”

  • Matt McNeely

    It’s not posturing. It’s diarrhea of the mouth and mind. “Posturing” would imply that he actually has some idea what he wants, which clearly he does not. He’s got people pulling him in 4 or 5 different directions and he has no clue what to do. Decisions are hard, you know!

  • DMV Sports Marketing

    Time for the Capitals to move on. It’s clear what he is doing. He is looking for the biggest offer. Leave him in Russia.

  • Insightful comment by someone named Brandon Oland on FB: ” Smart move on his part. Leveraging NHL deal to see what he can get in Russia. Can’t hate on him for that.”

  • Matt McNeely

    I don’t know. I think that may be giving him too much credit. Kuzya’s comments above don’t seem calculated to me. Seems more like they just kinda fell out of his mouth.

  • Unofficial Capital

    With such confusion doesn’t it make you want to scream? :S Okay I might have quoted MJ but GET OVER HERE KUZYA lol #Caps

  • McFarland

    Why is Kuznetsov “worth the wait”? If he’s this manipulative in Russia, then why is it assumed that that would change if he ever comes over to the Caps? Many fans seem to believe that an enormous ego must accompany talent and that it is acceptable for a potential top player to act in this way. I don’t agree. The Caps don’t need to have to “fix” any more self-centered stars.

  • bskillet

    Yep you’re right about the my description, I just can’t see putting so much effort into a huge question mark.

  • Freedoooom

    He’s using the press to posture. LOL.

    Please shut the hell up, you know nothing about Kuzya if you think this. The interview if you actually read it even refers to how the press thinks he wants too much and its unfair for him to be paid so much.

    Even this little dig at the end:

    “This is Russia, where many are willing to discuss other people’s money.”

    Bit of a dig at communists if I were a guessing man.

  • Jeremiah

    he put himself in the positon of being pulled in diferent directions. He went to the NHL draft interviewed told teams he wanted to come over and came to the draft to accept his drafting. if he never had a real thought of coming over he shouldn’t have done those things. he is at the same level of any player drafted this year in that he hasn’t proven he can play in the nhl and apparently doesn’t want the challenge. maybe if the caps could forgo an ELC and just throw money at him he would come over , but the caps would be laughed at for throwing money at someone who hasn’t played a single game in the league

  • yv

    Looks like his agent or adviser is a real piece of something. Maybe because his number in Caps is now taken, Kuzya seems again starting to play verbal games of uncertainty. But that’s nothing new. Just recently, and still now, there are plenty of examples, PKSubban, ROReily, Kadri, Pietroangelo, Just. Schultz, etc, etc, and they all then cash in or will. Having Kuz as a prospect doesn’t hurt Caps, especially considering that he was drafted 26th?. They and fans just shouldn’t build a team and their winning plans based on future expectations. Grabo signing is an example of reality-based plans of, at-least, trying to win now.

  • The first mistake you made in this comment was saying that “it’s clear what he’s doing.”

  • I feel like I know that Brandon Oland guy.

  • “He’s got people pulling him in 4 or 5 different directions and he has no clue what to do. ”

    I totally agree with this. He’s a superstar in Russia, he plays for his hometown team, and he is clearly content on where his life is right now. He’s also very impressionable.

    You guys gotta understand, this is a difficult transition for a young kid to make. I know it seems like a slam dunk that he should want to play in the NHL, but if you look at the context, it’s not. Less money, more risk, he knows barely any English.

    I really believe — after covering this never-ending saga for 3 years — that he will play in the NHL. I think he’s someone who wants to accomplish everything in his career: WJC gold, olympic gold medal, stanley cup, NHL trophies, etc. And he’s pretty much accomplished everything that he can do in Russia. I think he’s more in it for the glory than the money. We’ll see if I’m right in a few months here.

  • McFarland, I’d really love to see you forego several million dollars to play in a different country where you know zero of the customs and don’t know any of the language. I’d love to see how gung ho you are about. And oh yeah, the place you play, you’re a hero, everyone adores you. Turn that down. See how easy it is.

    From a hockey sense, you’re even more wrong about how he’s self-centered. Seriously watch Traktor or national team games. He is one of the least selfish players on the ice, he works his ass off. Other players admire how hard he works (see our last Kuzya post), and he’s a huge team guy. He causes no problems on the National team where he has to take a more minor role.

    Yes, a great team player who also has the potential to be a star, is worth all of this. Especially getting him in his prime where we’ll be on an entry-level contract. That’s awesome value.

    We both want the dude here, but dump on him because this journey is so difficult for him. I think he feels a certain amount of guilt that he even wants to leave in the first place.

  • Yes, it’s infuriating. It’s like when a girlfriend breaks up with you and then she keeps on coming back again and again. The breaking up is okay if it’s a clean break. But if you keep waffling back and forth, back and forth, it’s a million times worse to handle.

    So Kuzya, yes, please make your decision, stick with it, and shut up about it.

  • Agreed.

  • GoCaps

    An entry level contract isnt much of an effort. The kid is talented and he’ll fit in just fine with Ovie showing him the ropes. If he is a waste of space, then we can always trade him for draft picks or players. But I strongly believe this is not the case. Eventually he will show up for the big show and he wants to shine.

  • JerBear81

    As much as I’d like to see Kuznetsov come over, I don’t think he will. Sounds to me like he’ll stay home in Russia, make a comfortable wage, and start a family with his wife

  • Chip

    This might be a stupid question, but if Kuzy decides to never play in the NHL, are the Caps able to aquire any sort of compensatory pick or anything since it would mean we wasted a 1st rd pick?

  • yv

    That would be solely Caps problem, you choose you lose.

  • Matt McNeely

    McFarland, I think you’re making the wrong assumption about his character. He’s doesn’t seem so much manipulative as he does really indecisive. As frustrating and infuriating as it is, being indecisive is not such a terrible character flaw. If he were actually being manipulative then his flaw would be that he is a douche, and that would be bad for the Caps once he gets here. But I just don’t see anything to support that supposition.

  • Rhino40

    FTR, I very much want to see Kuznetsov over here helping the Caps.
    That said, the constant “willheorwonthe?”–to which Kuzya is himself a prime contributor–is extremely frustrating. Not to mention disturbingly reminiscent of the gymnastics the Caps had to go through to bring aboard a quiet young man from Krasnoyarsk. A lad whom they had selected 13th overall in the 2002, but who wouldn’t join the team “for keeps” until 4 years later.
    Yeah, I know it really isn’t the same with Kuzya, but still…

  • Unofficial Capital

    That’s why you’re my favorite writer.

  • Lance Perrier

    Be nice if he showed up in a Caps jersey at some point but I’m not convinced he’ll live up to the hype anyway. Nothing wrong with him staying on in the KHL since it’s home…and with each season that passes it’s becoming a better league. But I also think, if he does sign on to stay in the KHL, it could be because he knows he won’t live up to the hype and he would rather stay home and hide that fact. IMO

  • DMVSportsMarketing

    It is clear. He is playing both sides to get the biggest contract he can. Which is going to be in Russia. This kid has no real plans to come to the NHL. Caps should just move on!

  • Eddy Eagle

    I’ve never seen this guy make a “very nice” defensive play. And I’ve seen every single game highlight of the whole entire season and the playoffs. All I have seen is his offense and yeah he is a very good playmaker and distributes the puck with precision. But that means nothing off the ice in terms of his character. Take even Semin my favourite player for example — they say he is a ‘coach killer’ and that he doesn’t work hard. Uh What? Not a chance, he just never got a chance playing second fiddle to Ovechkin, and was always playing with lesser players so he wasn’t able to show his own playmaking skills, which are internationally elite. But look at his salary — he is making big money 7 million per (he deserves it as well) so why even complain? If he wasn’t he would probably be bolting to Russia. Take Radulov for example as well, very good player but he wasn’t happy with the money on an entry level contract so after showing his skill in the NHL he than left. And judging by the traits shown by Kuznetsov I wouldn’t doubt he would do the same. 3 years making minimum wage for that whiner is a looooong time.

    Also as far as your Team Russia comment. Yeah he plays a minor role on the National team, but that’s because he’s not ‘that’ good, and I think he knows that, because when it comes to the NHL he doesn’t have that kind of intensity. He’s been playing against 3rd and 4th line scrubs for the past 4 years almost, and that is horrible for your development. And he most certainly won’t stick out on the Russian Olympic team — unless he plays on one of their top two lines, which are loaded with talent. But with a top 6 of Ovechkin, Semin, Malkin, Kovalchuk, Datsyuk, Radulov — I wouldn’t say he will. He will also have a large learning curve when he actually does make it, if he doesn’t have the superstar support that are on the top 2 lines of the caps.

    And as far as what McFarland says about his manipulation — it is very true what he says. It doesn’t matter that he will be on an entry level contract, because some how and some way he will be begging and demanding more money in what maybe his 2nd season? His 3rd? It’s only a matter of time until he starts making up his excuses as to why it should be this way and why he is leaving or staying — all of them dumb for that matter because he’s a clown. He will probably end up back in Russia where his ‘fans’ are and he will love it, and he always has that BS back fall plan in the back of his head and manipulative mind. It is very clear that he doesn’t want to be the best, it is very clear that he does it for the money and it is very clear that he can’t take the pressure of having to compete on every shift, and even in real life on a societal level — and that is why he loved staying in Russia so much because he had no worries, no stresses. He’s not a true warrior of the game like the superstars in the NHL, he is a ‘pretty boy on the ice’ that will get smashed if he doesn’t keep his head up and he will learn that the hard way I am sure of it. This little boy needs to start being a man!

    Caps fans should be ashamed to even have him; Although I can’t wait for him to suit up because it will be exciting :D. He’s a very good player and I can’t wait to see what he can do against the BIG BOYS in the NHL!

  • Mark

    I think people need to read this again. I think he was just telling people that if he were to resign, which he’s not, it would be a five year deal or so. I think he was just telling everyone indirectly that his current team was offering 5 or so years. That’s how I understand his comment.

  • re DASH sign