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

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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.

Fight Video: Lappin, Puempel land some good shots in preseason tilt

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Who says players don’t care about preseason hockey?

Matt Puempel and Nick Lappin are trying to earn spots on their respective clubs, so they know they may have to do the little things others aren’t willing to do to stick around in the NHL.

On Wednesday night, that involved dropping the gloves against each other. These two seemed to be in mid-season form when it came to throwing punches.

Neither player is considered a tough guy. Lappin had 17 penalty minutes in 43 games with the Devils last season, while Puempel has 28 penalty minutes in 79 career NHL games.

Here’s the video footage of the scrap:

By the way, the Rangers won 4-3 in overtime.

Kings outlast Canucks in first edition of NHL China Games

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The Los Angeles Kings came away with a 5-2 preseason win over the Vancouver Canucks in the first of the 2017 NHL China Games. This contest took place in lovely Shanghai.

Adrian Kempe got the ball rolling for Kings, as he scored the first goal of the game on the power play to make it 1-0 for his team (top).

Kings forward Tanner Pearson scored a great shorthanded breakaway goal to extend Los Angeles’ lead to 2-0 (check out the Pearson goal by clicking the video below).

The shorthanded goal against wasn’t the only issue the Canucks power play had in this game. Vancouver managed to score once on the man-advantage, but they finished the game 1-for-14 in that department (yes, it’s only a preseason game).

with Vancouver trailing 3-0 in the second period, Sven Baertschi finally got them on the board to cut the Kings lead to 3-1.

Markus Granlund made it 3-2 in the third period, but that’s as close as the Canucks would come to tying the score.

Pearson extended Los Angeles’ lead to 4-2 before Jeff Carter finished off the game with an empty-net goal.

These two teams will meet again in Beijing on Saturday at 3:30 a.m. ET.

Krug to be re-evaluated in three weeks after taking puck to jaw

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Torey Krug‘s 2017 training camp is officially over.

The Bruins defenseman suffered a non-displaced fracture in his jaw after taking a puck to the face in Tuesday’s preseason game against the Red Wings.

General Manager Don Sweeney expects Krug to be re-evaluated in three weeks, which means he could miss Boston’s regular-season opener against Nashville on Oct. 5.

Losing Krug for any regular season games would be huge for the Bruins, as he had eight goals and 51 points in 81 games last season.

In other injury news, the Bruins also announced that forward Matt Beleskey (foot contusion) is day-to-day. He was hurt in Boston’s preseason opener against Montreal on Monday.

Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (upper body) is also day-to-day. He was injured against the Red Wings, too.

Caps’ Vrana hoping to earn spot with Ovechkin, Kuznetsov

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It looks like the Washington Capitals are going to give Jakub Vrana the opportunity of a lifetime.

Washington has given the young winger a chance to earn a spot on the right side of the top line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin.

On Wednesday night, they got to put the chemistry to the test, as Vrana and the Caps played the Canadiens in Montreal.

Vrana finished the game with a power play goal (an innocent shot that went off Canadiens defenseman Brandon Davidson and in the net). Kuznetsov and Ovechkin registered the assists on the goal and the Caps won 4-2.

“We played fast today,” Vrana said, per the Washington Post. “We had some passes today, some chances. It’s always a good sign when you have chances. … You’re going to be confident when you play with guys like this. You’re just going to be confident on the ice with the puck. Just play fast and build some chemistry there.”

The 21-year-old got his first taste of real NHL action last season, but the production simply wasn’t there (three goals and three assists in 21 games). But the 13th overall pick in the 2014 draft did put up solid numbers in the AHL, as he had 36 points in 49 games last year and 34 points in 36 games with the Hershey Bears two years ago.

“He gets to space,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “He gets on the puck because he moves his legs and his speed is noticeable. Kuzy can get him the puck, and getting down ice, he can put some pressure to create a forecheck, too. He worked hard today, and I think we keep putting him with top players, because we think he’s going to be a top player.”