2010 NHL Draft Portraits

Caps GM doesn’t expect Kuznetsov until late next season, if not 2014-15


Washington Capitals fans probably look at nice North American debuts such as Vladimir Tarasenko’s with the St. Louis Blues and wonder: “When will Evgeny Kuznetsov – our tantalizing young Russian forward – emerge?”

Caps GM George McPhee joined ESPN 980 on Wednesday and relayed the mixed news: he’s unlikely to debut with Washington until after the KHL’s 2013-14 season ends. In fact, he might not play for the Caps until 2014-15.

Russian Machine Never Breaks transcribed his comments:

“We’re pretty confident he’ll be here next year,” McPhee said. “There’s a chance we could see him this season, but he’s under contract now. Maybe when his season ends in Russia (their season ends a lot earlier) we could see him.”

“… Hopefully we’ll see him sooner than later, but it won’t be in the early part of our season.”

McPhee said he understands Kuznetsov’s decision to take a lot of money and stay closer to home, even if he wasn’t pleased with the deal he signed after being drafted to play two more years by Traktor Chelyabinsk.

He also believes the 21-year-old’s been paid in a rather … interesting way.

“He’s 20-years-old, they gave him ten million dollars to play for two more seasons,” McPhee said. “It’s a 13-percent tax rate over there and even with that, most of the money is under the table.  It’s probably no tax.  He’s playing in his hometown. He grew up there. He’s the face of the league over there so I understand how that works.”

So far, this situation seems like a cautionary tale for teams gambling with “The Russian factor.”

Still, McPhee seems optimistic it will work out, although he’s worried expectations will continue to swell.

” … I don’t want to hype the kid too much, then it’s harder when he gets here, but I think he’s a real good player and when he gets here we’ll see what he can do for us,” McPhee said.

Perhaps he should have said if he gets here.

Patrick Kane’s streak hits 19 games, setting a new American record

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When it comes to point streaks for U.S.-born NHL players, Patrick Kane now stands alone.

With a power-play goal early in Saturday’s Blackhawks – Kings game, Kane extended his streak to 19 games, breaking a tie with Phil Kessel and Eddie Olczyk (who finished with at least a point in 18 straight).

As of this writing, Kane has 11 goals and 19 assists during this 19-game streak. He also leads the NHL in scoring.

Bobby Hull’s 21-game point streak stands as the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall team record, by the way.

So, how would you protect a lead against the Stars?

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You know what they say: it’s easy to bash a strategy in hindsight.

Slam that NFL head coach for going for it on fourth down … or settling for the field goal. Bury that MLB manager because he kept a pitcher in too long. And so on.

“Score effects” settle in during almost any lopsided hockey game, yet the Dallas Stars present quite a conundrum: what’s the best way to put a way a team with this much firepower?

Tonight may have presented the greatest evidence that this team won’t go away easy, as it seemed like the Minnesota Wild had the best of a tired Stars team* when they built a 3-0 lead.

Instead, the Stars scored three third-period goals while Tyler Seguin capped the comeback with an overtime-winner.

It was one of those bend-and-then-break moments for Minnesota. Dallas generated a 44-26 shot advantage, including a ridiculous 35-15 edge in the final two periods.

Does that mean that Mike Yeo may have tried to play too conservatively with a healthy lead? It’s a possibility.

On the other hand, would the Wild be wiser to try to run-and-gun with one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL?

It sure seems like a pick-your-poison situation. Which way would you lean, though?

* – To be fair to Minnesota, each team was on back-to-backs.

Price paid: Devils come back against Condon, Canadiens

Mike Condon, John Moore,
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If nothing else, the New Jersey Devils seem like they won’t be the sort of team a contender can essentially mark off as a “W” on their calendars.

The Montreal Canadiens may not be in a position to take opponents lightly with Carey Price on the shelf, but whatever the case may be, they saw their four-game winning streak end in frustrating fashion on Saturday.

After falling behind 2-0, the Devils scrapped their way back into it, eventually riding a John Moore overtime goal to a 3-2 OT win.

If Montreal needs an obvious bright side to look on considering this hiccup, Alex Galchenyuk‘s hot weekend may be a good thing to look at.

Tonight’s loss may smart a bit anyway, however.

Metro’s best? Capitals keep winning, pass Rangers for division lead

Jonathan Bernier; Matt Niskanen; Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau

If you want to summarize the Capitals – Maple Leafs game in one sentence, you could do worse than:

“Washington is hot as Jonathan Bernier is cold.”

The Caps reeled off a 4-2 win against Toronto on Saturday, giving them five straight wins. They also jumped into first place in the Metropolitan Division today, as they keep climbing while the New York Rangers are experiencing some growing pains.

Again, James Reimer can’t get healthy and back in Toronto’s net too soon:

With this win, Washington is now 17-5-1, leading the Metro by one point with 35 standings points. They also hold a game in hand against the Rangers, and no other Metro team even has 30 right now.

Measuring stick stretch begins

Tonight’s game began a “prove-it” month-and-change for Washington.

This contest began a three-game road trip, and they’ll also play six of seven away from Washington.

It’s pretty rough through the start of 2016, really. The Capitals will only enjoy three home games through Jan. 9.

In other words, the Capitals seem like a convincing East contender, but look out if they remain hot through the next 5-6 weeks.