Russian player Evgeny Kuznetzov celebrates his 25th birthday between IIHF World Ice Hockey matches. Team Russia defeated Team Czech in the quarter-finals on Thursday in Paris , France and Saturday will meet Team Canada in Cologne, Germany. Kuzy earned two assists in the game.
Kuzy is a restricted free agent and hopefully in the midst of contract negotiations with the Washington Capitals. His current two-year contract of $6 million with a $3 million annual cap, ends in a few weeks. The Capitals have the option to offer him a better, longer contract or to release him for another team to pick him up. We know, for example, that the KHL would love to have him come home and play. As the Caps management team look at over all salary cap numbers they have to be considering the long-term benefit of a player like Kuznetsov and that means looking at what he has done under the previous contract.
Kuznetsov has been working to improve his game; unfortunately it isn’t evident in his stats this season. In his third full year of playing with the Caps, he dropped from a previous high overall points recorded of 77 to 59. While his goal scoring was pretty static (20 dropping to 19), his assist number dropped 57 to 40. His plus/minus dropped from 27 to 18. His power play production dropped, as did his shots indicating that he has not been contributing as much to the teams scoring chances.
- One thing for sure is that Kuzy is a valuable asset when it comes to the playoffs. He scored five goals with a total of 10 points overall. These numbers were up from last season’s two points and slightly better than 2015.
And yet, we still love him and have faith that he will improve. Witness what he is doing with his homeland team. We know he is fully capable of being one of the leading contributors to a winning team. He is just one of the players that for whatever reason didn’t seem to have the right scenario for scoring. However, in the coming season he is going to need to create those chances himself, regardless of which line he is one and with whom he is playing.
Kuzy has an irrepressible joy and lightheartedness. He caught reporters off guard when he walked in during the post-playoff life and asked: “Why you act like someone died?” He takes the game seriously but also has the right ‘move on’ attitude that the team needs to have going into the new season. Evgeny said he likes this team and wants to return. We hope he will.
For more on Kuzy’s hockey journey, check out our post from earlier this year. Click here!