Elite and Leading By Example: Evgeny Kuznetsov Has Emerged As One of the NHL’s Best Players and One of the Capitals’ Most Valuable Leaders

Evgeny+Kuznetsov+Boston+Bruins+vs+Washington+QG66IFlbeyvlPatrick Smith/Getty Images

Since he joined the Capitals at the tail-end of the 2013-14 season, center Evgeny Kuznetsov’s game as a player has evolved by leaps and bounds. At one time considered the best player not playing in the National Hockey League. Kuznetsov’s offensive talent is undeniable and in his fifth full season in the NHL, the former first-round pick (26th overall in 2010) is quickly becoming one of the NHL’s best players and one of the Capitals’ most important leaders.

When he first came to North America, Kuznetsov’s English and communication skills, as well as his play on North American ice was still very much a work in progress. However, four years later, his improved command of the English language and adaption to the smaller rinks have enabled him to thrive with the Capitals. After recording a career-high 83 points (27 goals, 56 assists) in the Caps’ Stanley Cup-winning season, Kuznetsov is quite simply, dominating when it comes to offense in 2018-19. In just seven games played thus far, the 26-year old pivot has four goals, and 12 points, with a plus/minus rating of plus-2, while averaging a career-high 20:57 minutes of ice time for Head Coach Todd Reirden. But what has pushed the offensive dynamo into the league’s best (a push that has gone relatively unnoticed outside Washington) is his evolution into an all-around player.

Prior to this season, Kuznetsov had never seen time on the penalty kill, with the likes of Lars Eller, Jay Beagle, among others, occupying time shorthanded. With the loss of Beagle in free agency, Reirden decided to give Kuznetsov the chance to play on the penalty kill, something the center supported. Through seven games, Kuznetsov’s play on the PK has been mixed. Of the eight power play goals the Capitals have allowed, Kuznetsov was on the ice for two of them (25%), but has won 75% of his faceoffs shorthanded. Defensively as a whole, Kuznetsov has been on the ice for eight goals against, compared to 18 goals for, and has a Corsi rating of 54.3%. At even-strength, Kuznetsov has also been on the ice for 4.4 goals for, and for 3.3 goals-against, and has eight takeaways to just five giveaways.

With a command of the English language, Kuznetsov’s evolution as a leader has also become apparent. For many, Kuznetsov’s straightforwardness and honesty is a quality that has earned him respect as a leader, often pointing to mistakes the team made in a loss, or emphasizing the importance of looking forward to the next game after a win. Kuznetsov’s play and poise on the ice shows the dedication and hard work ethic that has allowed him to become one of the NHL’s best players. Still only 26, Kuznetsov is just entering the prime of his career, and given his game-changing play this far into his career, the sky seems to be the limit for the Caps’ superstar center.

By Michael Fleetwood

About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. His favorite player became former Capital Nate Schmidt after he met Schmidt in a Hershey hotel while in Hershey PA to see the Bears play, shortly after Schmidt was injured during a conditioning stint. Michael is also a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Orioles, and enjoys photography, watching WildEarth TV's SafariLive live safaris, and watching animals in his spare time. (Photo by Adam Vingan in 2014 at the Capitals Development Camp).
This entry was posted in News, NHL, Offense, Penalty Kill, Players, Washington Capitals and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

54 Responses to Elite and Leading By Example: Evgeny Kuznetsov Has Emerged As One of the NHL’s Best Players and One of the Capitals’ Most Valuable Leaders

  1. Pingback: Signed, Sealed, Delivered: After A Big Pay Day, John Carlson is Molding Into One of The League’s Top Defenseman | NoVa Caps

  2. Pingback: Capitals-Oilers Preview: Washington Continues Road Trip in Edmonton on Thursday | NoVa Caps

  3. Pingback: Capitals’ Practice News Roundup: Line Juggling | NoVa Caps

  4. Pingback: Washington at Calgary Preview: Capitals Conclude Western Portion Of Canadian Road Trip In Calgary | NoVa Caps

  5. Pingback: With The Returns Of Travis Boyd and Tom Wilson Approaching, What Is Dmitrij Jaskin’s Future With Capitals? | NoVa Caps

  6. Pingback: Former Capitals Head Coach Barry Trotz Speaks About The Team’s Second Round Series Win against the Penguins Last Year | NoVa Caps

  7. Pingback: Why It’s Too Early To Worry About the Capitals’ Penalty Kill | NoVa Caps

  8. Pingback: Dallas at Washington Preview: Capitals Start Five-Game Homestand Against the Stars on Saturday Night | NoVa Caps

  9. Pingback: Edmonton at Washington Preview: Capitals Look to Get Back On Track Against Red Hot Oilers | NoVa Caps

  10. Pingback: Capitals’ Morning Skate News Roundup: Jaskin To The Top Line | NoVa Caps

  11. Pingback: Wednesday Night Hockey Preview: Capitals Clash With Penguins In Pivotal Metro Division Showdown | NoVa Caps

  12. Pingback: Capitals’ Morning Skate News Roundup: Brooks Orpik Out Again | NoVa Caps

  13. Pingback: Capitals Morning Skate News Roundup: A New Look Defense | NoVa Caps

  14. Pingback: Capitals Practice News Roundup: John Carlson Skates, Evgeny Kuznetsov Skips, Plus A Familiar Reunion | NoVa Caps

  15. Pingback: Arizona at Washington Preview: Capitals Conclude Homestand Against Coyotes | NoVa Caps

  16. Pingback: Capitals Morning Skate News Roundup: Tom Wilson Returns | NoVa Caps

  17. Pingback: Washington at Winnipeg Preview: Capitals Jet To Winnipeg | NoVa Caps

  18. Pingback: Washington at Colorado Preview: Capitals Continue Road Trip in Colorado | NoVa Caps

  19. Pingback: Capitals Morning Skate News: Injuries Pile Up In The Mile High City | NoVa Caps

  20. Pingback: Capitals Practice News Roundup: The Return of the Holtbeast And More Injury Updates | NoVa Caps

  21. Pingback: Washington at Montreal Preview: Capitals Conclude Road Trip Against Canadiens at Bell Centre | NoVa Caps

  22. Pingback: Chicago at Washington Preview: Capitals Host Blackhawks on Thanksgiving Eve | NoVa Caps

  23. Pingback: Capitals Morning Skate News Roundup: Oshie and Kuznetsov Still Out; New Lines | NoVa Caps

  24. Pingback: Washington Capitals Morning Skate News Roundup: Oshie and Kuznetsov Still Out; New Lines | NoVa Caps

  25. Pingback: Capitals Practice News Roundup: Oshie and Kuznetsov Out Again | NoVa Caps

  26. Pingback: Detroit at Washington Preview: Capitals Clash With Red Wings at Capital One Arena On Black Friday | NoVa Caps

  27. Pingback: Washington at New York Preview: Capitals Square Off Against Red-Hot Rangers With First Place In The Metropolitan On The Line at MSG | NoVa Caps

  28. Pingback: John Carlson Becomes Highest-Scoring Defenseman Through 22 Games Of a Season In Capitals History | NoVa Caps

  29. Pingback: Washington at New York Preview: Capitals Collide With Trotz, Islanders For Likely The Final Time in Brooklyn | NoVa Caps

  30. Pingback: Capitals’ Morning Skate News Roundup: Kuznetsov Skates For First Time | NoVa Caps

  31. Pingback: Since Returning From Suspension, Tom Wilson is Turning Into Offensive Force For Capitals | NoVa Caps

  32. Pingback: Capitals Injury Updates On Michal Kempny, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, T.J. Oshie, and Devante Smith-Pelly | NoVa Caps

  33. Pingback: New Jersey at Washington Preview: Capitals Go For Seven In A Row Against Devils On Friday Night | NoVa Caps

  34. Pingback: Has The Power In The East Shifted Towards The Atlantic Division? | NoVa Caps

  35. Pingback: Capitals Morning Skate News Roundup: Kuznetsov Back In The Lineup And Prep For the Devils | NoVa Caps

  36. Pingback: Report: Tom Wilson Avoids Suspension For Hit On Devils Forward Brett Seney | NoVa Caps

  37. Pingback: A Look At The Capitals’ Biggest Surprises Among 5-on-5 Point Producers This Season | NoVa Caps

  38. Pingback: Detroit at Washington Preview: Capitals Return Home To Face Red Wings | NoVa Caps

  39. Pingback: Washington at Carolina Preview: Capitals Take On Hurricanes in Raleigh | NoVa Caps

  40. Pingback: Buffalo at Washington Preview: Capitals Start Homestand Against Sabres In Eastern Conference Showdown | NoVa Caps

  41. Pingback: Wednesday Night Hockey Preview: Capitals Aim For Sixth Straight Win In Showdown Against Penguins | NoVa Caps

  42. Pingback: Capitals Morning Skate News Roundup: Brooks Orpik Gets Back On The Ice For The First Time | NoVa Caps

  43. Pingback: Buffalo at Washington Preview: Capitals Reconvene With Sabres At Capital One On Friday Night | NoVa Caps

  44. Pingback: Capitals Hit Another Home Run With Under The Radar Signing Of Nic Dowd | NoVa Caps

  45. Pingback: Carolina at Washington Preview: Capitals Return From Holiday Break To Host Hurricanes on Thursday Night | NoVa Caps

  46. Pingback: Hockey Night In Canada Preview: Capitals Hit The Road For Ottawa In The Final Road Game Of 2018 | NoVa Caps

  47. Pingback: Pheonix Rising: Pheonix Copley Exceeding Rookie Expectations | NoVa Caps

  48. Pingback: Nashville at Washington Preview: Capitals Play Predators In New Year’s Eve Matinee | NoVa Caps

  49. Pingback: Washington at St. Louis Preview: Capitals Begin Road Trip vs. Blues on Thursday | NoVa Caps

  50. Pingback: Washington at Detroit Preview: Capitals Wrap Up Road Trip Against Red Wings, Look To End Three-Game Skid | NoVa Caps

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.