Washington Capitals Mailbag: Kuznetsov, Backstrom, Crosby Vs. Ovechkin, Johansson

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Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Can Kuznetsov Keep Up The Pace?

This question comes from Steve from North Carolina.

"Center Evgeny Kuznetsov is off to an incredible start to the season. Do you think he can keep this up? Is he the first line center for the forseeable future?"

Thanks for the question Steve. I agree that Kuznetsov is off to an incredible start. I would consider myself an optimist about Kuznetsov. When nobody thought that he was worth the wait, I was one of the few who said that the wait would be worth it. It’s definitely been worth it. Even I couldn’t have foreseen that he was going to be THIS good this early in his career.

Let me get this out of the way early on. I would be shocked beyond the description of words if Kuznetsov kept up his current scoring pace. He has 11 points in seven games so far. He’s currently on pace for 129 points (rounded up from 128.85) if he plays all 82 games. Scoring 129 points in a single season is difficult. It’s only happened 49 times and only 22 players have accomplished the feat. 19 of those 22 players are Hall of Famers. Two of them (Teemu Selanne and Jaromir Jagr) ought to get in the first year that they are eligible. The only one of them who isn’t in the Hall? Pierre Turgeon. Sorry, Kuznetsov is most likely not going to sustain a pace that would put him in such an exclusive and elite group. I’d love for him to do it, though.

I don’t know if Kuznetsov is the first line center of the future for the Washington Capitals. Sure, he’s off to an incredible start. Kuznetsov needs to keep producing like a first line center if he wants to prove that he’s a better first line center option than Nicklas Backstrom. It’s a darn nice problem to have when you have two centers capable of handling first line duties. I’m certain that every NHL team would love nothing more than to have that problem.

Kuznetsov’s a pretty special player. Sit back and appreciate what he’s doing. It’s not that often that we get to see it.

Next: Kuznetsov vs. Backstrom