Washington Capitals top prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov has had a tough time this year. Over the last few months, he’s suffered three injuries. When he’s been healthy, he’s struggled. Traktor Chelyabinsk, which played in the KHL Finals last season, is barely clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Kuznetsov remains out with a leg injury.

In a Russian language interview with Alexander Rogulev of R-Sport, the 21-year-old star said he has ended negotiations with Traktor and reiterated that this will be his last season in the KHL.

“It’s been decided for a long time now, there should be no questions,” Kuznetsov said. “I won’t even stay for $10 or $15 million. The people [in Washington] have been waiting for me for three years.”

Here is the part of the article relevant to Caps fans.

Alexander Rogulev: Do you regret staying a year and a half ago instead of leaving for Washington?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: I didn’t know I’d have five injuries in one year…

Alexander Rogulev: Are you still pondering over what to do in the summer? Traktor, undoubtedly, is trying to keep you.
Evgeny Kuznetsov: It’s been decided for a long time now, there should be no questions. I won’t even stay for $10 or $15 million. The people [in Washington] have been waiting for me for three years. They write to me, fly over here. I’m an honest person and will live up to the word I gave them.

Alexander Rogulev: Have you had offers from Traktor?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: I have, not once or twice, but all talks come down to me not re-signing here, and this year is the last for me in the KHL.

Alexander Rogulev: Did you decide this a while ago?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: I did it at the beginning of the season. But I had little doubt until the New Year… I said in an interview that I will negotiate until the New Year holidays. In the end, there were no reasons to change my mind.

Alexander Rogulev: And that injury…
Evgeny Kuznetsov: Yeah, I need a change of scenery… Even dogs turn away from me on the streets [laughing]. I’m not even talking about people in the stores. It’s very tough.

Alexander Rogulev: Did your family try to convince you to stay in Russia?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: That’s what we’re not talking about at all. I think my parents even want me to play in America. Maybe only my grandma will be sad, she attends every game in Chelyabinsk, doesn’t miss one. But that shouldn’t be the big problem: they all will visit me. But it’s too early to say goodbye, I’m still hoping to play in the KHL playoffs.

Alexander Rogulev: Have you told your future Washington teammate Alexander Ovechkin that you’re coming over to America?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: Me and Sasha are calling back and forth often, but these are personal talks. He asks how did we play all the time. He probably doesn’t know any hockey sites, can’t look up the scores [laughing]. We’ve lost to Neftekhimik. He’ll smile, I won’t.

Here are a few other interesting bits from the interview:

Alexander Rogulev: It’s an unequivocal situation: Valery Nichushkin and Vladimir Tarasenko took a chance going across the pond and now are members of the Olympic team. You stayed and didn’t even get the call for the All-Star Game.
Evgeny Kuznetsov: Talking about the All-Star Game, I would leave it fully to the fans to determine rosters. I’m the only one who is to blame in this situation. I didn’t deserve the call to national team or All-Star Game. When the league decided to take me as an additional player, it was a breath of fresh air for me. But then I went out on the ice, bumped an opponent awkwardly and there’s another trip to Germany…

Alexander Rogulev: Is it fair to say you’ve been weakened by the home scenery – in Chelyabinsk you have your wife, parents, and friends all nearby?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: This is until I go out on the street. When I go, I see how people look at me… a lot of mad people. But I won’t say anything bad about them, I understand them, everyone’s nervous after the games. Everyone’s worried and expect more from me. I have to drop my eyes when I see them.

Alexander Rogulev: Many discuss your tweet which you posted two hours before the KHL deadline. Were there any offers?
Evgeny Kuznetsov: I thought Traktor would sign somebody. We don’t even have 25 players on the roster. But no one called me offering anything. Who needs me this year? [laughing] No one would even want me for free the way I’ve been playing.

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  • Chris Cerullo

    I maybe in the minority saying this, but I actually really like Kuzya’s attitude overall and his honesty in this interview.

  • Phil Owen

    Totally agree!

  • Jack Conness

    Traktor’s last game of the season (unless they make the playoffs) is March 4th. Could we expect Kuzy real soon after that? Like Penguins vs. Caps March 10th?!? Where Kuzy points up four points and leads the Caps to the Stanley Cup?

    Just kidding…but seriously, when should we expect him?

  • Fedor

    Depends on his health. I THINK Caps could consider signing him to a contract that doesn’t kick in until next year (that option opens on Feb. 1 IIRC) and shut him down until next season.

  • dylan wheatley

    oates will destroy this man

  • Jack Conness

    You think the Caps shouldn’t play him till next season? Why is that? Are we asking too much from Kuzy to come over and play this season?

  • Chris Cerullo

    I think it totally depends on where we are standings wise.

  • The Caps are fighting for a playoff spot, Kuznetsov has suffered several injuries this season. The Caps are likely to be very active before the trade deadline. There are so many variables here where anything could happen, then you actually throw in Kuznetsov — who is extremely unpredictable in his decision making…

    I think it will really depend on where the team’s at, how Kuznetsov feels in March or April. If both sides want him to suit up this year, I think you’ll definitely see it happen.

    I’ve always thought it would make a bunch of sense for him to play a shortened season — it knocks off one year of his entry-level contract and gets him closer to making what he was already making in Russia. You would have to think the Caps would want that to keep him happy too. It’s not like he’s an unproven rookie. Also, he could be a game-changing top-six talent for them if they make the playoffs.

  • Fedor

    I think Caps should make a decision based on medical info they’ll have. I don’t know.

  • Chris Cerullo

    Super bueno post. Completely agree.

  • Yo8

    I don’t understand why people are making fun of him now that he was “left” out of team Russia and saying it was because “he didn’t come to the NHL.” You don’t know if he would have gotten hurt here or he would have been snubbed over a KHL player like it happen to Sasha.

  • Jack Conness

    I gotcha. Thanks Ian!

  • hastagsadbuttrue

    Not if GMGM trades him for someone else will Oates will destroy first!

  • Aldohexose

    I wish he would come over here to heal and get medical second opinions. And learn to drive as good as OV.

  • No problem. Thanks to both you and Chris for commenting so much. We all really appreciate it!

  • Rob W.

    Hopefully he is healthy and hungry to be successful

  • Will Dobud

    Its good news but he’ll be a healthy scratch

  • ace willis

    Or GMGM could trade him for another player for oates to scratch.


    “He doesn’t play a north south game so I have decided to scratch him and continue using Brooks “as good as Backes/Richards/Kesler” Laich on the top line. He is one of the best players in the league. I hope mcphee extends him” – Oates.

  • Jack Conness

    Haha I was hoping I wasn’t posting TOO much. I’d hate to be “that guy” blowing up the comment board. But thank you!

  • Owen Johnson

    OK THIS sounds pretty definitive. Here’s hoping for the 2nd coming of the young guns: Kuznetsov, Wilson, Burakovsky, and Forsberg (d’oh!)

  • Chris Cerullo

    Oh what could have been… 🙁

  • Matt Root

    I couldn’t be happier! In a time where positive Caps news is few and far between, this makes me excited for hockey down the stretch. Awesome work, again, Fedor.

  • Matt Root

    Even a midst a playoff race (if it happens) I’d rather the choice of his playtime be based on his health. I see myself as being more of a realist but perhaps this is pessimistic of me but I don’t see a playoff run, let alone a deep playoff run in the cards this year. What I do see is a dynamic talent in Kuzya and the risk of rushing him into the NHL while not 100% seems unnecessary.

  • Jake Ettawakapow

    FUCK! FINALLY!! Sorry for swearing. BUT FINALLY!!!!!

  • RY


  • Barrett

    So, technically if he were healthy, he could report to Washington the day after the KHL season Was completed, right?

  • Yes. His contract ends at the end of April. On May 1 he can leave for Washington. There has also been past cases where KHL teams allow their players to get out of the contract early as soon as their season ends to join the NHL. But that must be negotiated and agreed to by both him and his KHL team.

  • Barrett

    I don’t think anyone, Oates included, thinks Brooks Laich is currently one of the top five two-way forwards in the league. However it wasn’t that long ago that he was considered to be near that conversation. He hasn’t been the same since battling this groin injury. He definitely is a 3rd line forward for most teams in this league and is possibly a top six on this Capitals team (and is over your boy Tom Wilson). He’s getting the minutes because GMGM has handcuffed Oates by not providing players to fit the system he wants to implement. The lack of quality top six left wingers is nonexistent in Washington.

  • imgsl57

    To Ian’s point about the ELC, given his age it would be a 2 yr ELC if he signs next year so that’s not a factor. That said, would help for him to get acclimated (not to mention healthy with Washington docs) sooner rather than later.

  • Jim Brown

    A bit that wasn’t translated from the interview http://hockey.sport-express.ru/reviews/40104/

    – When will we see you playing?
    – Soon. Cannot tell you the exact date. I am skating for a week already. Some pains? There are none. After the surgery I stood up and walk (laughs).

  • Jeremy

    He was “near that conversation” in DC… the front office, the red-clad fans. Anybody who ever thought Brooks was top 5 league-wide was delusional

  • Barrett

    I recall numerous rumors a few years ago that the Detroit Red Wings were after him in free agency. This was after his multiple 20 goal seasons.

  • Foppa

    I heard those rumors too – BL does have a good agent I will give him that. This guy doesn’t sniff the top six for a Babcock coached team.

    But the point about GMGM is a good one

  • Quincy Van Ekeren

    he should come recover in washington skate with ovie and the boys. get a feel for the way they work. because isnt he elidgible in playoffs?, like radulov did in nashville a few years back?