Caps have long-term ‘vision’ for Kuznetsov, who they ‘absolutely’ see as a center

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Barry Trotz doesn’t want Evgeny Kuznetsov to play the wing. The 22-year-old’s future with the Washington Capitals is at center, so that’s where he’ll be developed. Even if there are “growing pains.”

“I absolutely see him as a center,” Trotz said, per CSN Washington. “If you watch him on the wing, to me he’s not going to be very productive with his wall play. He’s more of a distributor.

“I’ve thought about it. I put him a couple shifts on wing and it sounds like a great idea, but I think ideally, going forward our vision organizationally is to have [Nicklas] Backstrom, [Andre] Burakovsky, Kuznetsov, [Michael] Latta. That’s sort of our vision for the middle of the ice.”

Trotz added: “The teams that are very successful in this league are strong up the middle. The Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup and they’ve got Mike Richards as a fourth-line centerman.”

Kuznetsov was a healthy scratch for the first time this season in Friday’s 3-2 win in Chicago, before returning to the lineup for Saturday’s 4-3 OT victory over Carolina.