As the new season builds momentum, it becomes an exciting time in hockey. Speculation is ripe and enthusiasm is high…. well mostly. Understated stars emerge from the masses and start to make an impact on their respective teams. For the Washington Capitals, Evgeny Kuznetsov is fast becoming a dominant force.
Evgeny Kuznetsov A Dominant Force
Love them or hate them the Washington Capitals have no shortage of elite players. With powerhouses like “The Great Eight” Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Braden Holtby to name a few. Under that shadow, it is understandable that others take time to shine. Having spent five years in the KHL with Chelyabinsk Traktor before joining the NHL in 2013. The 26-year-old Russian is a marvel to watch and had a career-high season for 2017-18. Due to this, the young forward was key to the Stanley Cup-winning success story. Kuznetsov has all the elements to make him a dominant force in the league. Offensive production is one of those elements.
Last season Kuznetsov notched 27 Goals, 56 Assists for 83 points, although it doesn’t match players such as Ovechkin and Edmonton Oilers golden boy Connor McDavid by any means. It propelled the 204-pound forward to 19th in the NHL on points. And second in goals and points for the Capitals last season. That is quite an impressive achievement in today’s highly competitive NHL.
Abilities that Kuznetsov possess such as speed and creative talent also makes him such a dominant force for the Capitals. He regularly contributes at equal strength, adding to that he also scored seven powerplay goals last season. The Capitals have improved their special teams vastly from previous years, and can now boast one of the best in the NHL. This is where Kuznetsov really shows his stardom. This dominant player can break open a game in any short handed or overtime situation, with eight goals winning goals and two overtime goals last season. To put this in perspective Brad Marchand, Patrik Laine, and Brayden Schenn all equal this GWG number.
Kuznetsov Continues To Sore
Kuznetsov continued this dominance into the playoffs. The 26-year-old led the playoffs in scoring with 12 goals, 20 assists equalling 32 points. Passing his peers Ovechkin and Backstrom for the top spot. In fact, Kuznetsov recorded a point in all but one of the Capitals post-season games. That one game he didn’t register a point, he was sidelined with a shoulder injury.
This season is predicted to be no different for the Russian native, who is currently on a four-game point streak. Out of eight games played so far, seven of them have seen Kuznetsov produce offensively. Giving the center five goals (all on the PP), eight assists for 13 points in those eight games. For these talents, Kuznetsov is now a fixture on the top line with Ovechkin. Being on the top line means increased ice time. So far this year, Kuznetsov is averaging around 20:12 minutes per game.
What’s Next For The Russian Star?
Watch this space, it is predicted that Kuznetsov will continue to steamroll this season. Injury permitting, the Russian powerhouse will again prove why he is a dominant force in the league. With the offensive awareness, creativity, and personality to match its likely to be another career high season. Although to many Kuznetsov has been a superstar for some time, he’s maybe just been performing too under the radar to be noticed. Some would even go as far as to say unfairly missing out on the Conn Smythe trophy last season to Ovechkin. If he keeps up this pace he is a real contender for the Hart Trophy this year. With such a high impact player the Capitals repeat chances have a higher percentage of becoming reality.
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