Washington Capitals Grades: Evgeny Kuznetsov earns a low grade

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports /

For the last report card for the Washington Capitals 2020-21 season we have what I think is one of the more interesting ones with center Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Kuznetsov had an interesting campaign this past season and the headlines weren’t always good. The year started off with him along with Alex Ovechkin, Dimitri Orlov, and Ilya Samsonov all being fined and having to miss four games due to COVID-19 protocols.

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After that setback Kuzy was already playing catch up but he never really caught up. Since the 2017-18 season he has been the first line center and easily a top 3 offensive player on the team. In the 2018 playoffs he was the next player up for the Conn Smythe Trophy behind Ovechkin. But since then we have seen Kuznetsov’s play and overall effort levels become inconsistent.

Kuznetsov only played in 41 of the 56 total games this year due to injuries and multiple COVID-19 issues. In those games he had 9 goals and 20 assists which is not up to par for a top teams top center.

After a very lackluster regular season then we entered the playoff series against the Boston Bruins where once again Kuzy did not perform. He played in three of the five games, had zero points and was minus one.

Now Kuzy did get COVID twice which is very rare and there is no telling what that did to him mentally and physically. COVID is something we have only had to start dealing with in the past year and he cannot be blamed for how it affected his game.

There was a lot of confusion towards the end of the year as to why Kuznetsov and Samsonov were being held out of practice and games. This could show that Kuzy is having trouble keeping hockey as the priority.

Kuznetsov is one of the most naturally talented centers in the NHL, but lately he has not lived up to his potential and certainly not $7.8 Million a year against the cap. If the Capitals want to contend in twilight of Nicklas Backstrom’s and Alex Ovechkin’s careers, I don’t think Kuznetsov is part of that winning equation.

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Grade: D for disappointment. I think this grade is honestly pretty harsh but is only because of the high bar that Kuznetsov has set for himself. Every Caps fan has seen what he can do and it is truly disappointing and saddening so see his talent wasted.