It looks like the Caps have yet another supremely skilled Russian forward on the way—just not this season. After watching Russian captain Evgeny Kuznetsov put up nine points in a single game last night against Lativa in the World Junior Championships, fans in Washington may have had visions of the Capitals adding another potent scorer to the mix at the end of the season. But those dreams will have to wait a few more months.
“He’s ready to play here and he needs to play in a better league,” Washington GM George McPhee said about Kuznetsov. “When you’re not playing at the highest level you can develop some bad habits and you don’t want that stuff to become engrained, so we want to get him in the best league he can and work with him.”
Unfortunately, because of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Kuznetsov cannot come over and play in North America after his KHL season concludes. Fans will have to wait the beginning of next season before they get to see the talented prospect rock a different shade of red.
Despite the wait, McPhee said that Kuznetsov looks like he’s ready for the NHL and will get every opportunity to make the Capitals roster next season. He acknowledged that the team hasn’t started negotiations with Kuznetsov’s agent for an entry-level deal; but added that it was nothing out of the ordinary. He also added that he likes to leave players alone during the WJC tournament, but plans on working on a deal to bring the skilled forward to North America for next season.
Not a bad prospect for the 26th pick in the 2010 Entry Draft, eh?
We finally have an update on the knee injury that caused Matt Duchene to leave last night’s game against Phoenix in the first period. After undergoing an MRI today, the Avalanche have announced that the young star will miss at least a month with an injury to his right knee. All the sudden, last night’s 3-2 victory against the Coyotes seems like a cheap parting gift in comparison to the long-term implications of Duchene’s injury.
The news comes at a critical time for the Avalanche. Despite winning six of their last seven games, the Avalanche are still sitting in the 10th spot in the Western Conference with a couple of teams breathing down their neck. They obviously need to keep their foot on the pedal to stay in the mix for one of the last playoff spots in the West. A month-long dry spell in the win column would doom any team competing for the playoffs.
Unfortunately for Colorado, Duchene is one of the players they can least afford to lose. The 20-year-old center is leading the Avalanche in goals (12) and he’s second on the team in scoring. Losing one of their best scorers has to be one of the worst things for the team that is 24th in the league in scoring.
Now it’s time for guys like Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk to pick up the slack as the Avs try to keep their head above water to start the New Year.
We here at PHT would like to wish Florida Panthers defenseman Mike Weaver a hearty congratulations for his new two-year contract worth $1.1 million per season. It’s a good deal for the Panthers who were able to lock-up a 20 minute per game defenseman for a low cap hit. From the player’s perspective, the deal offers a little more security for a guy that has bounced between four teams over the course of his decade long NHL career. It’s a win-win deal that pulls another potential free agent off the market this summer.
Good thing Weaver earned a new contract to keep a smile on his face, because Kris Versteeg helped him “celebrate” the occasion during a pregame interview. The ol’ shaving cream in the face gag never gets old. When was the last season that we saw the Florida Panthers having this much fun after almost 40 games?
Obvious guy says: Winning is fun.