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Washington Capitals top prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov is currently at home recuperating from shoulder surgery. Two weeks ago, Kuznetsov took an awkward run into the boards during Traktor Chelyabinsk’s second regular season game of the year. Kuznetsov did not finish the game and flew to Germany to be examined before ultimately undergoing surgery on his shoulder.
Traktor Chelyabinsk head coach Valery Belousov spoke to Traktor’s official website on Thursday, providing more insight as to how Kuznetsov got injured. He also spoke about Kuzya’s recent comments regarding staying in Russia if he were offered a 5- to 7-year contract.
RMNB’s Fedor Fedin has your translation.
There was no broadcast [of the Vityaz game] from Podolsk. Please shed some light on what happened when Zhenya [Russian nickname for Kuznetsov] got injured?
It was the first shift. The defenseman dumped the puck into the corner and [Kuzya] went to chase, and that’s when Rybin drove into him. Zhenya started to turn and hit the boards shoulder-first. I’m not going to say it was dirty. The players should be ready for battles like that in the game. It shows that we were not quite ready against both Dynamo and Vityaz. That’s why the outcome was poor.
How big of a loss is Kuznetsov for your system? How does it change the game plan?
First of all, we need a player who can fit on the top line. It’s difficult to fit right into the ensemble we have in the first game after you’ve joined them. We have to tweak the lines, try different players in his spot. I think [the key games] are still ahead of us.
In one of the interviews Zhenya made a little hint that if he gets offered a long-term deal in Russia, he’ll think about staying [in Russia] or not. Do you see that as an option?
It’s up to him; I don’t want to hold him back in a sense that he has a huge desire to play [in the NHL]. But after injuries like that, I don’t know what will be next. He’s gonna be out for awhile, we’ll see how the rehab goes, how he will feel. Because he may lose his confidence. But we’ll help him in everything, we’ll do everything so he plays the hockey he can play. So we’re waiting for his rapid recovery.