|Evgeny Kuznetsov after Russia won gold in the 2011 WJC in Buffalo, NY, USA.|
In 2011, a 19-year-old Evgeny Kuznetsov, still in his second season playing for Traktor Chelyabinsk, went to a KHL All-Stars dinner in Riga, Latvia. The young centre had no idea how to act around all these strangers, people much older and more experienced than him, so he took a seat next to Sergei Fedorov, captain of a rival team. He ended up having a conversation with Fedorov, which inspired him as he went forward playing for the same team that Fedorov had played for, the Washington Capitals. Remembering his conversation with Fedorov this past week, Kuznetsov had nothing to say but good things: “He’s very much like a gentleman, you know? He said a couple of good words to me.” After Fedorov finished his career with Metallurg Magnitogorsk just a year later, in 2012, Kuznetsov asserted that he is looking forward to seeing Fedorov again, and had the chance to meet him again on Monday, during the Capitals game against the Detroit Red Wings.
Since his arrival in Washington in the late 2013-14 season, I have been impressed by the young Russian's dazzling skills and perfect dangles and passes. He became my favourite player and soon after, I began watching his KHL highlights and became a big fan of Traktor. Sadly, I couldn't watch the games because it is at 4 am here in the States! For all the other Kuzya enthusiasts, here are five facts about him I bet you didn't know:
1. His nickname is "Harry Potter."
The Capitals duo of Tom Wilson and Michael Latta gave him that nickname after he impressed them with his puck-handling skills that seemed magical.
2. He has a 6-month old daughter.
After getting married at age 19, Kuznetsov and his wife Nastia finally had their first daughter, whose full name is Ecenia Evgenia Kuznetsova.
3. He is humble and a bit (?) shy.
After Kuzya scored his first career against the Edmonton Oilers early this season, he didn't even raise his hands in celebration. Every time he scores a sick overtime goal or does something that is crazy sick, he calls it "luck." Even teammate Backstrom, who is extremely humble himself, had something to say about it: "He’s kind of shy, I would say, for the media,”
4. His idol is Pavel Datsyuk (just like me!).
Apparently, I am not the only one who thinks Datsyuk is best))
Kuzya had this to say about magic man Datsyuk, and why everyone thinks he is so impressive: “He may not score 100 goals a year, but when he’s out on the ice, he just humiliates you. He sees everything, he can tie his opponent’s shoelaces with one hand. It seems like he never even gets tired. I was happy to play against him [in the KHL during the 2012 NHL lockout], and it was a real honour to play with him [on Team Russia]. I’m too far from him and I have to work every day. I may never be like Pavel, but I want to be and have some of his skills."
5. Barry Trotz (Capitals coach) and Braden Holtby (Capitals goalie) think he can be a top-5 NHL player.
Barry Trotz just couldn't stop oohing and aahing over him: "It’s not even the same person,” Trotz said. “We always knew he had the skill, but his pro game – his North American game – has really come along. He’s not afraid of the big moments. He’s not afraid of the top players in the league. He wants to be one of the best guys in the game, and I think he can be."
On the other hand, Braden Holtby was a bit more realistic: "[Kuznetsov] had an adjustment period last year coming over. It seemed like right after the all-star break he was a different player. He was probably our best player throughout the playoffs. Right from the start of the year you could tell he has world class skill. He has the ability to be a top-five player in this league. With the amount of poise, skill, and commitment to getting better [he has], it’s amazing to watch him every day. He’s a great teammate and he’s huge for us."
Hope you enjoyed this post; let me know in the comments! Thank you for reading! спасибо!!!