“For God so loved the world, He sent his only son …” John 3:16.
Ok, that might be a bit over dramatic.
Yet, it does seem like Capitals fans are really, really, REALLY excited – and possibly relieved – with Evgeny Kuznetsov finally signing his entry-level deal with Washington.
Why is this such a big deal, you ask? A few reasons.
Kuznetsov, a center, was drafted at No. 26 by the Capitals in 2010. Considered to be a talented player with a bright future, his drop in draft stock was surprising. There were concerns over Kuznetsov possibly not coming to the NHL after all; therefore, teams didn’t want to gamble on the pick.
Fears were somewhat justified when Kuznetsov did not report to the Caps right away. Instead he decided to re-up on a two-year deal with his KHL club, Chelyabinsk Traktor. As that deal came to a close in 2012, and depending on what/who you choose to believe, Kuznetsov was still iffy on coming on over to the NHL.
Kuznetsov decided to re-sign with Traktor for another two-years, keeping him in Russia until 2014. It’s assumed this move was made to improve the likelihood of his making the Russian Olympic team. (If the Olympic games are still on your DVR, SPOILER ALERT: he didn’t make the team.)
What was bad news for Traktor ends up being good news for the Capitals. The KHL season has ended and Traktor did not make the playoffs. Kuznetsov’s KHL contract was terminated early, allowing him to sign his entry-level deal with Washington. The annual value is rumored to be around $900K.
It remains to be seen if the 6’3″, 200-lbs. Kuznetsov will make an impact in the NHL. Caps fans – and GM George McPhee – sure hope it was was worth the wait.