Evgeny Kuznetsov’s Salary is in the KHL’s Top Ten

Evgeny Kuznetsov and Jan Bulis are two of the Traktor’s highest-paid players (Photo credit: Vitaly Gubin/HC Traktor)

Sports.ru has revealed the list of the 90 highest-paid KHL players. Unsurprisingly, Ilya Kovalchuk, who retired from the NHL to sign with SKA St. Petersburg, tops the list at $10.3 million per year (in US dollars). Alexander Radulov, who signed with CSKA Moscow a year ago, holds second place with $7.5 million per season. Sergei Zinovyev is inarguably the worst contract in the KHL. He’s a center in the last season of a five-year deal with Salavat Yulaev whose production has fallen dramatically during that contract, but he still makes $4.7 million per year, third highest in the league.

The list also features a few names that should be familiar to Washington Capitals fans.

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Top Washington Capitals prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov came into Friday’s game against Yugra on a roll: three goals in his last three games and loads of confidence leading Traktor back in the playoff picture.

Kuznetsov kept up the pace in a 4-3 overtime win for Traktor Chelyabinsk over Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk. And he did it in style.

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Photo credit: Vitaly Gubin/HC Traktor

Red alert! Washington Capitals top prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov has finally scored his first goal of the KHL season.

Coming into Sunday’s game against Avangard, Kuznetsov, who missed six weeks of the season with a shoulder injury, had just one assist and a minus-9 — that’s bad even if it’s not a real stat — in the first six games of he played.

Both teams, who faced each other in the Eastern Conference finals last season, were surprisingly outside of the playoff picture as of Saturday — Traktor was ninth and Avangard was tied for 12th in the East. Thankfully for these two teams, someone had to win this game.

Kuznetsov, who has had trouble finding the net since late last season, finally got lucky. While Traktor was on a five-on-three power play, Kuznetsov tried to feed the puck to a wide-open Jan Bulis in front of the net. Instead, the puck got a mind of its own, and hopped under Bulis’s stick and went in off Avangard defenseman Nikita Pivtsakin’s skate.

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Photo credit: Sovetsky Sport

After Friday’s training camp session, Traktor Chelyabinsk announced their captain and assistant captains for the upcoming season. Konstantin Panov will wear the “C” while former Capital Jan Bulis and future Cap Evgeny Kuznetsov will be sporting the “A’s.”

But that’s not why you’re here. Earlier this morning, Sport.ru’s Igor Eronko tweeted out this quote from Kuznetsov: “I think i’ll return to Russia from NHL when I’m 30.”

It seems Kuzya is planning the return trip even before he’s arrived in North America.

As always, context is key. Kuznetsov is speaking to a reporter from a major Russian media outlet who has asked him a loaded question– something along the lines of “Why bother going to the NHL, Kuzya, if everybody is coming back home now anyway?” The 21-year-old Kuznetsov handled it deftly, showing respect to both the league in which he will be playing in this season and Ilya Kovalchuk, who has instantly become the face of the KHL and nothing short of the national hero upon announcing his return.

Kuznetsov is entering the final season of a two-year contract with Traktor that included an enormous bonus from the KHL to keep him at home.

I’ve translated the rest of Kuznetsov’s conversation with Alexey Mikushkin of Sovetsky Sport below.

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Red’s definitely his color. (Photo credit: Harry How)

Back on January 6, 2011, Team Russia made the biggest comeback in World Junior Championship history, scoring five unanswered third period goals against Canada to win the gold medal. Then-18-year-old Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov centered the team’s first line and led the charge, assisting on three of the team’s goals.

Kuznetsov’s assist on Vladimir Tarasenko’s game-tying goal made him a hero in Russia and known to hockey fans worldwide. The play was was a perfect example of how he might play center in the NHL. Kuznetsov back-checked a Canadian player and stole the puck. After some diligent forechecking, he found Vladimir Tarasenko in the slot with an uncanny no-look pass.

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Photo credit: Salavat Yulaev

After starting the 2012-13 season on fire with goals in his first four games, Caps top prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov cooled off a bit. By that we mean that he had one lonely point in the two games following the streak. On Monday, Kuznetsov had his biggest game yet as Traktor Cheylabinsk took on Salavat Yulaev at Ufa Arena. In 14:59 TOI, Kuznetsov scored a shorthanded goal and collected two assists. It was Kuznetsov’s first three-point game since January 28th of last season.

Highlights of Traktor’s 4-1 drubbing of Salavat, including Kuznetsov’s goal that broke his stunningly-long two-game goalless streak, are under the jump.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov Scores Goal in Fourth Straight Game

Evgeny Kuznetsov

Kuznetsov during warm-ups. Photo credit: 74hockey.ru

Coming into Sunday’s game, Traktor Cheylabinsk’s fourth of the season, Caps top prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov had scored in every game he played in. Sunday kept that streak going.

Against the KHL’s defending Gagarin Cup champions Dynamo Moscow, Kuznetsov had his second straight two-point game, scoring a goal and recording an assist in the victory.

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Photo credit: Valery Zvonarev / KP.ru Chelyabinsk

In their third game of the 2012-13 KHL season, Traktor met Western Conference powerhouse SKA at home in Chelyabinsk. Evgeny Kuznetsov entered the game with two goals. He left with three.

Kuznetsov also tallied his first two-point performance of the year. His first point came very early in the game, as he got credit for a secondary assist on Jan Bulis‘ goal less than three minutes into the game. That goal tied the game at one. Things quickly unraveled for Traktor however, as SKA scored twice more to take a 3-1 lead into the first intermission.

The score remained unchanged for the next 39 minutes, despite both teams trading chances (one of the biggest opportunities was a Kuznetsov breakaway denied by goaltender Ilya Yezhov). With about a minute to go in the third period, Kuznetsov finally broke through, skating the puck into SKA’s offensive zone guarded by two men. After his initial shot was blocked from the slot, Kuznetsov, out-battled three other defenders and got to the rebound first, snapping a shot past Yezhov. Kuznetsov celebrated by jumping high into the boards near center ice. Despite a late flurry, SKA, led by their netminder, managed to keep their one-goal lead and win 3-2. The game’s highlights can be seen under the jump.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov Dominates in the Preseason

Kuznetsov during the game against Kolner Haie. (Photo credit: Vitaly Gubin/HC Traktor)

Washington Capitals top prospect/prodigal son Evgeny Kuznetsov kicked off his season last week at the Chelyabinsk Region Governor’s Cup, a 4-game preseason tournament which featured two local teams (Traktor Chelyabinsk, Metallurg Chelyabinsk), two KHL teams (Avangard Omsk, Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk), and one foreign team – Kolner Haie of the German DEL.

On Saturday, Kuznetsov showed why he’s one of the best players not currently in the NHL, tallying a shorthanded goal and an assist in Traktor’s 5-1 victory over Kolner Haie, a team coached by former Colorado Avalanche defenseman Uwe Krupp.

Video of Kuzya’s highlight-reel plays are below the jump.

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Kuznetsov is stopped on a breakaway at 1:55. His two shootout goals can be seen at 3:45.

Taking a tenuous 2-0 lead into the third period, Traktor Cheylabinsk unraveled in the final minutes against host Avangard Omsk on Sunday. First, 4:31 into the final frame, the KHL’s leading goal-scorer, Roman Cervenka, scored on a cross-crease pass to bring Avangard within one. Then ten minutes later, Omsk’s Yegor Averin scored on a broken play in front of Traktor’s net to force overtime.

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