- © RIA Novosti. Alexei Kudenko
© RIA Novosti. Alexei Kudenko
MOSCOW, March 4 (R-Sport) – Traktor Chelyabinsk forward Evgeny Kuznetsov will join the Washington Capitals in the next few days, a source close to the player told R-Sport on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, he played what appears to be his last match in the KHL, as last year’s finalist Traktor failed to make playoffs. The forward has opted not to play in the consolation Cup of Hope, which runs alongside the KHL playoffs.
“Kuznetsov wasn’t going to play in the Cup of Hope matches. He has already bought tickets and after the end of the KHL regular season, he will fly to North America,” the source said.
In a 3-2 shootout defeat to Ak Bars Kazan, Kuznetsov captained his team for the first time and scored his first goal since November to break a 14-game drought. He gave Traktor a 2-1 lead in the second period, converting a 5-on-3 power play with a wrist shot from a narrow angle.
“It’s hard to describe my feelings, I haven’t scored for a long time and finally done it. It’s a load off my mind,” Kuznetsov said in televised comments.
The 21-year-old is set to join fellow Russians Alexander Ovechkin and Dmitry Orlov at the Capitals, who drafted him 26th overall in 2010 and had been expecting him in summer 2012. Kuznetsov backtracked and decided to stay in his hometown for two more seasons.
The 6-foot-3, 187-pound forward failed to make Russia’s Olympic roster following mediocre performances in an injury-plagued season.
In five KHL seasons, Kuznetsov has 78 goals and 89 assists for 167 points in 251 games. He was an All-Star in 2011-12 and 2012-13.