Yevgeny Yevgenyevich Kuznetsov (Russian: Евгений Евгеньевич Кузнецов; born 19 May 1992) is a Russian professional ice hockey forward currently playing for the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League (NHL). He previously played for Traktor Chelyabinsk of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). He has represented Russia in junior and senior level competitions on numerous occasions, winning gold medals at the 2011 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, as well as at the 2012 IIHF World Championship and 2014 IIHF World Championship. Kuznetsov won the Stanley Cup with the Capitals in 2018 and was the highest scoring player in the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs with 32 points, the most by any player in a single postseason since Evgeni Malkin in 2009. Kuznetsov is known for his bird celebration he used throughout the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs, earning him the nickname "The Birdman".
Kuznetsov with the Capitals in 2018
19 May 1992|
|Height||6 ft 2 in (188 cm)|
|Weight||204 lb (93 kg; 14 st 8 lb)|
26th overall, 2010|
Kuznetsov made his professional debut in the 2009–10 season with Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL. That season, he played 35 games, totaling eight points. After his performance for Traktor, he was ranked as the third-best European skater by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, where he was eventually selected in the first round, 26th overall, by the Washington Capitals.
In the 2011–12 season, Kuznetsov was selected to the KHL All-Star Game. During the season, he also won the Continental Cup and bronze medals with his team. It was reported that during the 2013–14 season, Kuznetsov earned $3.8 million to play for Traktor.
On 8 March 2014, Kuznetsov signed an entry-level contract with the Washington Capitals. On 25 March, he scored his first career NHL goal, which happened to be a short-handed goal, against the Los Angeles Kings with under a minute left to tie the game; the Capitals, however, eventually lost 5–4 in the shootout.
On 23 April 2015, Kuznetsov scored the first and second Stanley Cup playoff goals of his career against the New York Islanders. In the same game, he also had an assist in an eventual 5–1 Washington win. On 27 April 2015, he scored the game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarter-finals against the Islanders in the same series, advancing the Capitals to a Conference Semi-finals match-up against the 2014–15 Presidents' Trophy-winning New York Rangers.
In 24 playoff games in 2018, Kuznetsov had 12 goals and 20 assists for a total of 32 points, second only to Evgeni Malkin in 2009 among players in the last 25 seasons of Stanley Cup playoffs. Kuznetsov’s series-clinching overtime winner in Game 6 against Pittsburgh secured the Capitals’ first berth in the Eastern Conference Final since 1998, ending years of playoff failure against the Penguins. His four assists in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals made him only the fourth NHL player to record that many in a finals game, the first in 22 years. Kuznetsov led the league with 32 points in 24 appearances in the 2018 postseason, but lost to linemate and team captain Alex Ovechkin in the Conn Smythe Trophy competition.
"In helping deliver a championship Washington had wanted for more than 40 years, Kuznetsov was arguably the Capitals' most instrumental player. The 26-year-old, fifth-year pro finished with a playoff-leading 32 points, including his 20th assist in Thursday night's series-clinching 4-3 win over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5."— W. G. Ramirez, Associated Press
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association determined the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy on a 5-3-1 basis, with the final tally determined by the NHL with ten minutes remaining in Game 5 of the finals. All but two of the votes were cast for Washington Capitals players, with Kuznetsov and Ovechkin receiving inverse totals — Ovechkin took 13 first-place votes and five second place, while Kuznetsov received five first-place votes and 13 second place. Capitals goalie Braden Holtby was the third-place choice of 16 voters. Golden Knights goalie Marc-André Fleury received the remaining two third-place votes.
Kuznetsov scored on a power-play and had three assists to power the Washington Capitals to a 5–2 win against the Vegas Golden Knights in a rematch of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final at Capital One Arena on October 10, 2018. Of his performance, teammate T. J. Oshie said: "I think [Kuznetsov is] up there with the top five players in the League. He just doesn't get the recognition for some reason. But you come watch a game, there's certain players that get people out of their seats and it's a joy to watch." Kuznetsov had the primary assist on each of goals the two goals by team captain Alex Ovechkin, his #610 and #611 NHL-career goals, surpassing Bobby Hull for 17th on the all-time list. Of playing with the Great 8, Kuznetsov said:
It's pleasure to play with him. You may not understand right now but when you get older, you understand what kind of guy he is. He's one of the best players in probably whole history. He's gonna be in the Hall of Fame and maybe one of those pictures in Hall of Fame I'm gonna be somewhere around him just after we score.
Kuznetsov is considered one of the most accurate passers in the game. Capitals teammate Tom Wilson says of him, "He just tells me to put my stick on the ice and he'll hit it. It's a privilege to play with him. He's one of the best at his craft." Kuznetsov has played in the shadows of fellow Russian Alexander Ovechkin, but his talent is gaining attention. As former Capitals coach Barry Trotz explained:
Ovi has been a staple since he's come into the league. Kuzy is a little newer. People don't really know him as well as Ovi. You're seeing the talent of Kuzy. You've seen the greatness of Ovi over the course of his career to this point. I think Kuzy is just getting better and better. He’s taken a bigger piece of this team.
Trotz considers Kuznetsov to be a highly intelligent player, saying, "Kuznetsov has an extremely high hockey IQ. He loves to study film. He sees what others don't." Teammate Lars Eller agrees: "Kuzy has a very high IQ. He’s a very smart player."
One of the most dynamic players, and he can take over the league if he wants to. I think he’s that talented and sees the game better than anyone else.
Kuznetsov's stickhandling "elicits a certain awe from those who watch him most". As Capitals teammates (and staff) describe how he moves the puck on ice:
It looks like he’s dancing out there.
It’s effortless. It’s smooth. It looks like he’s not even trying. He’ll come to a complete stop and reverse out of it. It’s fun to watch somebody do that stuff. It’s got to be unbelievable to be able to play that way, you know? That’s what I always think about: ‘How fun would that be if I could do that?’— General Manager Brian MacLellan
[When] you come watch a game, there are certain players that get people out of their seats and it’s a joy to watch. I don’t even like watching hockey, so when I see Kuzy going, it’s one of the only times I enjoy.
Of his own approach to playing, the recognition he's getting from teammates on his talent, and his preference for fun over awards Kuznetsov says:
To be MVP, you have to work hard 365 [days] in a year, but I’m not ready for that. I want to have fun, and I want to make those risky plays when sometimes you don’t have a play and you guys don’t understand every time those plays. It’s not easy to make. But to be MVP in this league, you have to play even better. You have to go next level. It’s not easy. More important, you have to stay focused 365 [days], but that’s not my style.
Kuznetsov has generated controversy around his celebrations after making goals. His "cellies" have most prominently included the prancing bird — and earlier the kayak, push-ups, and playing dead. Kuznetsov debuted the bird dance at the 2016 World Cup when he scored a goal-to-goal score against Matt Murray of Team North America. After taking a break from the celebration, his "joyful prancing bird celebration" reappeared in the 2018 NHL post-season. Kuznetsov claims he brought back the bird because his daughter "loves that stuff." Teammate Tom Wilson loves "to see the wings come out." As he sees it, "That means he’s checked in and playing with fire. If he scores a big goal like that, I’m not going to tell him he can’t. Do whatever you want with your celebration." Kuznetsov "lifted" the bird dance celebration from the FIFAsoccer video game.
Evgeny Kuznetsov accepting a post-game award at the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championships
|Men's ice hockey|
|World Junior Championships|
|2011 United States|
|IIHF World U18 Championships|
|2009 United States|
Kuznetsov played for Russia at the 2010 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships held in Saskatchewan, Canada. He finished the tournament with two goals and was selected as the player of the game for Russia after the preliminary round game against Austria.
Kuznetsov again represented Russia in the 2011 World Junior Championships in Buffalo, New York. He was the only 18-year-old on the Russian team; every other player was 19. He finished second in the tournament in scoring, with four goals and seven assists in seven games. He also had three assists in the gold medal game, in which Russia overcame a 3–0 deficit in the third period against Canada to win 5–3. Kuznetsov was named by the tournament coaches as one of the three best players on his team, and was named to the tournament all-star team by the media. He was also named the best player in the match against Norway, in which he recorded one goal and one assist. He finished tied for second in the tournament in scoring, alongside teammate Vladimir Tarasenko, with four goals and seven assists.
Kuznetsov then served as team captain for Russia at the 2012 World Junior Championships, the third year in a row he participated in the tournament. On 29 December 2011, in a game against Latvia, Kuznetsov recorded three goals and six assists for nine points in an emphatic 14–0 win for Russia. This set a record for most points by a Russian player at the World Juniors, as well as the second-highest total in a game in the history of the tournament, one point behind Peter Forsberg of Sweden, who set the record in 1993.
Regular season and playoffsEdit
Bold indicates led league
|2009–10||Belye Medvedi Chelyabinsk||MHL||9||4||12||16||8||2||1||2||3||4|
|2010–11||Belye Medvedi Chelyabinsk||MHL||8||10||5||15||4||5||0||2||2||10|
Awards and HonorsEdit
|First Star of the Week (18-25 October)||2015|
|First Star of the Month (January)||2016|
|Stanley Cup (Washington Capitals)||2018|||
|WJC18 First Team All-Star||2010|||
|WJC First Team All-Star||2011, 2012|||
|WJC Best Forward||2012|
|WJC Most Valuable Player||2012|
- NHL Central Scouting (2010). "International Skaters Final Ranking" (PDF). NHL.com. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
- Kimelman, Adam (26 June 2010). "Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin selections start to wild first round". NHL.com. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
- "Vote's result of the 2012 KHL All-Star Game". KHL.com. 2012.
- "Capitals agree to terms with Kuznetsov". capitalstoday.com. 8 March 2014. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
- Petchesky, Barry (5 June 2018). "This Is Evgeny Kuznetsov's Time". Deadspin. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
- Raby, Ben (9 May 2018). "Is Evgeny Kuznetsov's game winner the greatest goal in Capitals' history?". wtop.com. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
- Greenberg, Neil (5 June 2018). "Analysis | Evgeny Kuznetsov should have slight edge over Alex Ovechkin for Conn Smythe". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
- RotoWire (9 June 2018). "Capitals' Evgeny Kuznetsov: Finishes with league-best 32 playoff points". CBSSports.com. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
- "Kuznetsov and Holtby prove just as valuable as Ovechkin". charlotteobserver. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
- "Evgeny Kuznetsov and Braden Holtby finish behind Alex Ovechkin in Conn Smythe voting". Russian Machine Never Breaks. 13 June 2018. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
- "Kuznetsov carries Capitals past Golden Knights". NHL.com. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
- Associated Press (5 June 2018). "Washington Capitals move one win closer to Stanley Cup title". Fox News. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
- Whyno, Stephen. "Caps' Ovechkin and Kuznetsov inspire Russian players, fans". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
- Boswell, Thomas (3 March 2016). "What's Russian for 'brilliant'? Evgeny Kuznetsov". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
- "Evgeny Kuznetsov's practice presence a promising sign for Capitals - Sportsnet.ca". Sportsnet.ca. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
- "Caps' Kuznetsov shakes off injury, scores in Stanley Cup Game 3". Las Vegas Review-Journal. 3 June 2018. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
- Khurshudyan, Isabelle (12 October 2018). "The Caps think Evgeny Kuznetsov is one of the NHL's best, but he just wants to have fun". Washington Post. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
- Fox, Luke (29 April 2017). "Kuznetsov doesn't care if bird celebration ruffles feathers - Sportsnet.ca". Sportsnet.ca. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
- Abramo, Donya (6 May 2018). "Evgeny Kuznetsov on bringing back the bird walk celly: 'My daughter loves that stuff'". Russian Machine Never Breaks. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
- IIHF (6 January 2010). "Best Players per Game" (PDF). IIHF.com. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
- Meltzer, Bill (5 January 2011). "Russia's comeback kids ready for WJC gold medal game". NHL.com. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
- IIHF (5 January 2011). "Best Players of Each Team Selected by Coaches" (PDF). IIHF.com. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
- IIHF (5 January 2011). "Media All Stars" (PDF). IIHF.com. Retrieved 5 January 2011.
- IIHF (5 January 2011). "Best Players per Game" (PDF). IIHF.com. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
- IIHF (5 January 2011). "Scoring Leaders" (PDF). IIHF.com. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
- Aykroyd, Lucas (29 December 2011). "Nine-point night for Kuznetsov". IIHF.com. Archived from the original on 9 October 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
- "The Washington Capitals, after years of frustration, win the Stanley Cup". The New York Times. 7 June 2018. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
- "Evgeny Kuznetsov Awards and Achievements". Eliteprospects.com. 7 June 2015. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
- "2011 World Junior Championship Awards". The Sports Network. 5 February 2011. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
- Biographical information and career statistics from NHL.com, or Eliteprospects.com, or Eurohockey.com, or Hockey-Reference.com, or The Internet Hockey Database
- Profile at Traktor Chelyabinsk website (in Russian)
|Awards and achievements|
| Washington Capitals first round draft pick