Photo: chelyabinskhockey.ru

While the best hockey players in the world are duking it out for gold in Sochi, the KHL — just like other domestic leagues — is shut down for the Olympic pause. With the break almost over, Traktor Chelyabinsk held their mid-season “preseason” game against Avtomobilist Ekaterinburg. After the game, future Capital Evgeny Kuznetsov talked to Oleg Savinkov of Chelyabinskhockey.ru about the Olympics and his departure for North America.

What can you say about the Russian team performance at the Olympics?

No comment. I understand how tough and difficult it is for the players. For many of them it was the last Olympiad. You have to support them. Anybody can say something bad and insulting, but to support them with a nice word… Not many people here can do that.

The World Championship is coming up. Will you go if you are invited?

Let’s wait and see.

Does it depend on who is coaching the national team?

I liked working with Bilyaletdinov all these years. And every time I was called up, I was happy to go. Not just to put a checkmark, I really did give it my best every time. To me, it doesn’t matter for any hockey player who the coach or the manager is. The main thing is – you are playing for Sbornaya (Russian national team).

You recently posted on Twitter that you are preparing for your departure overseas. Are you planning to do that right after the playoffs, or is there a anything else that will determine the date?

Let’s wait and see how everything turns out. I need to get my visa first. Then we’ll see. I know that their regular season ends when we have Gagarin Cup Final here. So let’s just play hockey, and I think we’ll still have a go at it this year.

So, does this add anything to the ever vague timeline of Kuzya arrival to Washington? Probably not, although if I were to try to read anything into “let’s wait and see”, my guess would be he has a verbal agreement with Traktor that they would let him out of the contract as soon as their season is over (otherwise, KHL contracts run and players get paid through April 30th).

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  • dylan wheatley

    is kuz going to be a better player than marcus johnansson?


    When was this interview done?

  • Yesterday.



  • I think he has more talent than Johansson. Will he be better? We shall see.


    I think if I was a betting man, I’d say that if he plays well for Traktor in the playoffs (assuming they make it) but they still get knocked out they will let him leave. But if he doesn’t play well, I think Traktor will make sure he stays in Russia as long as possible.

  • dylan wheatley

    yeah. just that both are left shooting wing/centers with similar amounts of experience. im wondering how much of an upgrade kuzya would be on the first line

  • TW43

    I think he is a better scorer than MJ90. I think it is a huge upgrade over MoJo