The Washington Capitals have had to wait a long time to get Evgeny Kuznetsov, but they are finally able to announce that they have inked the 21-year-old forward to an entry-level contract.
Kuznetsov was taken with the 26th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, but until now he had been playing for the KHL’s Chelyabinsk Traktor. Although he has no experience playing professionally in North America, he’s likely to head straight for Washington rather than the minors.
Since Washington drafted him, Kuznetsov has emerged as one of the KHL’s best players, scoring 46 goals and 105 points in 131 games over the last three seasons. He ranked sixth in the KHL’s scoring race in 2012-13.
He’s also served internationally for Russia, leading the nation to a World Junior’s gold medal in 2011 with 11 points in seven contests and a World Championships’ gold in 2012 with six points in 10 games.
The Capitals are likely going to look to captain Alex Ovechkin to take Kuznetsov under his wing in the hopes that he can make a smooth transition while Washington continues its fight for a playoff spot.
Update: He will make his NHL debut on Monday, per TSN’s Bob McKenzie.