McPheeKuznetsov

Photo: Carolyn Kaster

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On June 25 2010, the Washington Capitals selected Evgeny Kuznetsov 26th overall. They saw him as one of the top players in the draft. He had only fallen so low, the Capitals thought, because some teams were uncertain when or if he would come to North America. George McPhee thought he could bring the 18-year-old Russian over within a year. One thousand three hundred fifty-two days later, Kuznetsov signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Caps.

“We’ve been working on it for four years,” McPhee told reporters before Washington’s game against Phoenix on Saturday. “It’s kind of like seeing the Loch Ness Monster when he walked in. We’ve heard of you, but we haven’t seen you. There he was and I found it hard to believe he was standing there after all this. It’s a pretty neat feeling that this kid’s in the fold and he’s a pretty darn good player.”

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klesla

Photo: Christian Petersen

George McPhee was active at the trade deadline, making big moves to send Martin Erat packing and bring in goalie Jaroslav Halak. Both of those trades involved Rostitav Klesla, a defenseman formerly of Phoenix.

Klesla, who was waived and cleared back in November, was an add-in in both transactions, but considered a marquee asset in neither.

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Almost four years after he was drafted by the team, Evgeny Kuznetsov has been signed by the Washington Capitals. Drafted 26th overall in 2010, Kuznetsov has stayed in Russia, playing for the KHL’s Traktor Chelyabinsk. For the past year we’ve had indications Kuznetsov would finally be coming over. That came to a head a few days ago when he voided his expiring contract with Traktor after they failed to make the playoffs.

Just after 1 pm today, the Caps announced they had signed the 21-year-old to a two-year entry level contract. Caps GM George McPhee will talk about the signing tonight at Verizon Center. Tomorrow morning at 8, Kuznetsov will take the ice as a member of the Washington Capitals for the first time before addressing the media. He will be wearing his usual number 92.

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Kuzya will be leaving for DC without his favorite two homies.

On Thursday, the KHL announced that Evgeny Kuznetsov had worked out a deal with Traktor Chelyabinsk to nullify the last few months of his two-year contract. The agreement allows Kuznetsov to travel to North America and begin his NHL career in Washington. #KuzyaWatch is finally nearing an end.

Sovetsky Sport’s Pavel Lysenkov managed to catch up with Kuzya during these hectic last few days and conducted a short interview with the young prospect. The 21-year-old reveals that he hopes to fly to Washington DC on Sunday or Monday and that he is initially leaving his wife and dog in Russia.

Kuznetsov also explains Traktor’s position on him leaving and hopes that he’ll “catch on for the playoffs with Washington.” Well, if they get there.

Igor Kleyner has your translation.

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Meet Alex Ovechkin in Alexandria Friday Afternoon

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Who wouldn’t want to meet this guy? (Photo: Alex Brandon)

Washington Capitals captain and future hall of famer Alex Ovechkin will be among us mere mortals on Friday. He’ll be (I assume) signing autographs and taking photos from 4-6pm at the new Hybla Valley Verizon Wireless store in Alexandria, Virginia. I am told it’s the store’s grand opening.

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This just in: Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov has been released from his KHL contract with Traktor Chelyabinsk. This is another hurdle cleared on his path to Washington.

The Caps have a policy of not discussing players currently under contract to other teams. That no longer applies here. What happens next will be interesting.

The news comes directly from the KHL’s Facebook page.

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Photo: Mark Buckner

(Photo: Mark Buckner)

Coming into the 2014 NHL trade deadline, some fans feared Caps general manager George McPhee would make a drastic move in the hopes of securing a playoff spot. Instead, he made three reasonable ones. The Caps got better this year without harming themselves in the future.

The biggest deal was the final one, with the Caps sending Michal Neuvirth and the newly acquired Rostislav Klesla to the Buffalo Sabres for Caps killer Jaroslav Halak and a third-round pick.

“I think we start with Neuvirth, and he wasn’t happy being a number two,” McPhee told reporters at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “We tried to accommodate him. We brought in an experienced guy. I think it’s an upgrade on the tandem which is what we wanted to accomplish.”

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Photo: Bruce Bennett

In late-breaking blockbuster, the Capitals have acquired notorious Caps-killing goaltender Jaroslav Halak for Michal Neuvirth.

Halak earns $3.75M as a UFA until the end of the season. He was acquired by Buffalo for Ryan Miller last week. Halak’s lifetime save percentage is .917. His playoff save percentage against Alex Semin is 1.00.

Neuvirth began his pro career with the Caps organization. He sports a .910 career save percentage and earns $2.5M per season through 2015, when he’ll be a UFA.

The Capitals have also given a 6th round magic bean to Buffalo. Actually, the Caps have been given a third round pick. Even better.

UPDATE: R. Klesla is now a Buffalo Sabre too. Even more of a salary dump!

This is big. Goodbye, Neuvy.

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Report: Evgeny Kuznetov Coming to America Within a Week

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Russian reporter and recalcitrant Sabres fan Slava Malamud just shared this nugget, which we’re now passing onto you. Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov, now finished with his KHL season, will be coming to North America soon. Slava says within the next five days.

Keep in mind that there are lots of hurdles to clear: visas, travel, signing a contract. Don’t expect Kuznetsov to play against the Penguins on Monday or anything, but he could be lacing up at KCI as soon as next week.

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Trade Deadline Bonanza Open Thread

Ryan Kesler: he's gonna move today, right?

Ryan Kesler: he’s gonna move today, right?

I was torn on whether or not we should do an open thread today. The Caps made some hugealicious moves yesterday, getting Dustin Penner for a fourth-round pick and sucking the Martin Erat out of the wound for assorted odds and ends.

But as of Wednesday morning, the Caps have $1.8M in salary cap space. They could still make moves. Plus, this open thread gives us all a chance to marvel at whatever dumb thing Holmgren does next and the continuing mass delusion that Ray Shero is improving his hockey team.

Updates below the jump and chaos in the comments. Let’s do it!

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