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What They're Saying About Evgeny Kuznetsov

by Mike Vogel / Washington Capitals
What They’re Saying

First Round, 26th overall – Evgeny Kuznetsov, C-LW, Chelyabinsk. Born May 19, 1992 in Chelyabinsk, Russia. 6-foot-0, 172 pounds, shoots left.

In Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington has chosen a Russian forward in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft for the fourth time (Alexandre Volchkov, Alexander Semin, Alex Ovechkin). Kuznetsov’s primary position is listed as center by the league’s Central registry, so this marks the third straight draft in which Washington has chosen a center with its first choice in the draft (Anton Gustafsson, Marcus Johansson).

Central Scouting Bureau (ranked No. three among European skaters)
Profile:
• Kuznetsov represented Russia at the 2010 World Junior Championships and was one of seven draft-eligible players on the young Russian team that finished sixth.

• He also participated in both the 2009 and 2010 Under-18 World Championships. In 2009 he helped Russia to a silver medal and in 2010, as captain, he recorded a team high 12 points (5-7--12) and a plus-eight rating in seven games to be named one of Russia’s top three players for the tournament.

Scouting Report:
“He is fast, skillful and talented. He is also a leader on the ice, he was captain of the Russian Under-18 team and he had an excellent tournament. He is very skilled.”

Red Line Report (ranked No. 17):
“Very dynamic skill level. Extremely quick, soft hands. Controls the puck like he’s got it on a string and holds onto it that extra split second, giving linemates time to cut to open ice for his decisive feeds. Superb patience around the net – outwaits goalies and always forces them to make the first move. Tremendous natural sniper who buries his chances. Can score in a variety of ways – off the rush, with a great shot off the wing, or with slick moves in tight. Also has an explosive first step and top end gear with excellent east-west moves. Capable of making flashy, highlight reel plays and can kick in the afterburners to leave d-men in his dust. But shows frustration easily, taking stupid penalties often, and is poor on the backcheck – has little interest in the defensive end. An enigma – could score a boatload of points, but might also become a headache. Talent level is often much higher than effort level.
Projection: Top line speed merchant and scorer
Style compares to: Maxim Afinogenov

International Scouting Services (ranked no. 19):

Size/Strength: Good
Skating: Excellent
Puck Skills: Excellent
Shot: Very Good
Offensive Play: Excellent
Defensive Play: Good
Physical Play: Average
Competitiveness: Very Good
Hockey Sense: Very Good

Strengths
1. Puck Possession
2. Needs little space to execute
3. Quick hands and feet

Areas For Improvement
1. Defensive Play
2. Focus

Skill:
Masterful offensive player who is capable and will try to do anything to score.

Scouting Report:
Kuznetsov really falls into the stereotypical Russian mold. A very talented technical player who displays emotional fire and passion to succeed, Kuznetsov has really taken advantage of the exposure of playing in major international tournaments. Kuznetsov played with the U18 team, where he served as captain, the WJC team, played on last year’s silver medal winning U18 team and has also represented Russia at World Junior A Challenge. A very smooth puck handler who can beat defenders one on one, Kuznetsov requires very little time or space to score goals and can do so off the rush of with his very good shot from almost anywhere in the offensive zone.

NHL Potential:
Exciting offensive player who can really raise the level of a game.

Style Compares To: Vyachaslav Kozlov

McKeen’s 2010 NHL Draft Guide (ranked No. 11)
Evgeny Kuznetsov put a stamp on his season with his most recent performance at the U18, where he finished second in tournament scoring. Although Russia failed to medal, he was arguable their best player. Kuznetsov cracked the KHL at the tender age of 17 and even though he did not get much ice time this year, he absolutely dominated when playing against players his own age. He has puck skills and is a natural finisher who looks to score each and every shift. At times he can hold onto the puck and needs to distribute it faster and then get into position to utilize his shot. He uses a short stick so he can get his shots off faster.  Kuznetsov is a healthy skater who possesses a nice, efficient stride and is well balanced who keeps his weight shifted proportionately over his skates. He is ornery and does not hesitate to stick the opposition as he plays with sandpaper and grit. At times he played undisciplined and will need to curb his aggression as it resulted in many untimely penalties. He will need to add some weight to his frame, but has the tools to be an effective top-six forward who can score goals.”

TSN (Ranked No. 24)
Bob McKenzie: Evgeny Kuznetsov is the stereotypical highly-skilled Russian forward who can be the dominant force in one game and then invisible the next. Most teams have Burmistrov and Tarasenko rated ahead of Kuznetsov but not all of them and it’s not inconceivable, albeit an outside shot, that he could still be the first Russian player taken in the draft. But, again, the Russian Factor leaves us all befuddled in terms of where and when he could be selected.

The Hockey News: (Ranked No. 18)
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