Evgeny Kuznetsov 2014-2015 Preview and Projections

Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, we took a look at the enigma that is Marcus Johansson, and looked at why this season is a critical one for him. Today, we take a look at another player who is competing for the second line center job: Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov is a very important member of the Washington Capitals. If the Capitals show a lot of improvement this season, chances are that Kuznetsov will be one of the biggest reasons why.

 Evgeny Kuznetsov’s 2013-2014 In Review

Evgeny Kuznetsov made his NHL debut on March 10th. From a stats standpoint, Kuznetsov was not impressed. However, by the eye test, Kuznetsov was everything that Capitals fans had hoped for, and more. Kuznetsov added an element of speed and skill that the Capitals have lacked in recent years. In a rare showing of common sense, head coach Adam Oates slowly eased Kuznetsov into NHL playing time rather than throwing him into the fire. Kuznetsov did quite well considering he had never played a single game in North America before.

That said, his possession numbers were atrocious. Granted, he was playing on the fourth line most of the time, and he was adjusting to the NHL, but still, that obviously has to improve. Considering Evgeny Kuznetsov now has his feet wet in the NHL, that he has had a full off-season to prepare himself, and that he should be playing with much better players, I think that is something that will obviously change.

In short, take what Kuznetsov did last season with a grain of salt because it’s an extremely small sample size.

Evgeny Kuznetsov’s Best Moment From 2013-2014

There are quite a few choices to choose from, but I had to go with his first NHL goal:

Evgeny Kuznetsov’s Worst Moment From 2013-2014

Being snubbed from Russia’s Olympic hockey team after staying in Russia so that he could play for his country in the Olympics.

What To Expect From Evgeny Kuznetsov In 2014-2015

I’m expecting very big things from Evgeny Kuznetsov this season. I think he will be a very strong contender for the Calder Trophy (rookie of the year), especially given the fact that he has an advantage over the other rookies: experience.

It’s very hard to have expectations from Kuznetsov when he’ll be playing a position that he has minimal experience in at the NHL: center. Chances are, Evgeny Kuznetsov is going to be the second line center for the Washington Capitals. That should be interesting because Kuznetsov was outright atrocious at faceoffs in the KHL, though he does have far superior coaching in the NHL, and as Mike Ribeiro proved, nobody cares how you perform in the faceoff circle as long as you’re productive. If it’s really that much of a concern, the Capitals could put Eric Fehr or Troy Brouwer on Kuznetsov’s line and have them take the faceoffs instead of Kuznetsov.

I like that they’re letting Evgeny Kuznetsov play center. Kuznetsov has been touted as the reason that the Capitals didn’t invest much money into a second line center as of late. For better or for worse, the Capitals have to find out if that’s true, so why not find out sooner as opposed to later?

Bold Prediction

I have two:

  1. Evgeny Kuznetsov will win the Calder Trophy.
  2. He will score 50+ points.

Next up: Braden Holtby