With the 26th pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft the Washington Capitals selected Russian forward Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov, a 6’0”, 172-pound native of Chelyabinsk, Russia played last season with Chelyabinsk Traktor of the KHL. He tallied two goals and seven assists in 35 games last season while recording only 10 penalty minutes. Kuznetsoz represented Russia at the 2010 World Junior Championship and scored two goals in six games.
The 18-year-old pivot also played for Team Russia at the World Under-18 Championship in both 2009 and 2010. He captained Russia in 2010 and led his squad with five goals and seven assists in seven games. He also had a team-high 40 shots and a +8 rating as the Russians finished fourth. In 2009, Kuznetsov led Russia to a silver medal after scoring six goals and dishing out seven assists in seven games.
There were reports on Twitter tonight that he plans to play two more years in the Russian league before giving it a shot in North America. According to Caps GM George McPhee (via @JapersRink), the Caps had Kuznetsov ranked 12th on their draft board so getting him 14 picks later appears to be a steal for Washington.
I exchanged texts with an NHL Scout, who was on the floor in Los Angeles and works for another team, to get his take on the Capitals selection. His responses were:
“[Alexander] Semin Junior, but not as skilled.”
When I informed him that McPhee stated that the Caps had Kuznetsov 12th on their list and that Washington tried to trade up to get him (h/t @JapersRink), he responded:
“That’s a fair ranking, we had him a couple below that.”
So it appears, at least initially, that the Caps got a bargain with their late first round pick. Caps development camp is set for July 12-17 at Kettler IcePlex in Virginia so hopefully the young Russian will attend and Caps fans can get a look at him, as well as any other players they select in rounds two through seven on Saturday. The Caps currently have one pick each in the third, fourth and sixth rounds (Nos. 86, 116 and 176). The Caps also have picks No. 142 and No. 146 in the fifth round. Coverage starts at 1pm on Saturday on the NHL Network.
Notes: Former Caps defenseman Mark Tinordi’s son, Jarred, was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens, 22nd overall…The Washington Capitals media relations staff is the 2009-10 recipient of the Dick Dillman Award for the NHL’s Eastern Conference, given annually to the team judged to be the best in media relations by the members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA). The PHWA made the announcement this evening in Los Angeles, in conjunction with the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. It is the fourth straight Dick Dillman Award for the Capitals. The San Jose Sharks won the award for the Western Conference. The Dillman Award honors the late Dick Dillman, a highly respected media relations guru for the Minnesota North Stars. Members of the PHWA are eligible to vote on the award, and voters are asked to consider multiple factors, including fairness, cooperation, efficiency, accuracy and presentation of media notes, quality of media guide and willingness to help facilitate interviews. The Capitals’ media relations staff, overseen by vice president of communications Kurt Kehl, includes Nate Ewell, Paul Rovnak, Kelly Murray and Jeff Weinstein, as well as a number of game-night staffers.