Evgeny Kuznetsov

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.

Evgeny Kuznetsov
Evgeny Kuznetsov 2018-04-29.jpg
Kuznetsov with the Washington Capitals in 2018
Born (1992-05-19) 19 May 1992 (age 30)
Chelyabinsk, Russia
Height 6 ft 2 in (188 cm)
Weight 207 lb (94 kg; 14 st 11 lb)
Position Centre
Shoots Left
NHL team
Former teams
Washington Capitals
Traktor Chelyabinsk
National team  Russia
NHL Draft 26th overall, 2010
Washington Capitals
Playing career 2010–present

Kuznetsov won the Stanley Cup with the Capitals in 2018, leading the playoffs in point-scoring 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, as well as the rest of his career, earning him the nickname "the Birdman."

Playing careerEdit

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.[1][2]

In the 2011–12 season, Kuznetsov was selected[3] 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.[4]

Washington CapitalsEdit

On 8 March 2014, Kuznetsov signed an entry-level contract with the Washington Capitals.[5] 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.

During the 2015–16 season, Kuznetsov was named to his first All-Star Game as a replacement for Alexander Ovechkin, who pulled out due to a lower-body injury.

Kuznetsov steps on the ice prior to the start of Game 5 of the 2017 First Round playoffs against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

On 2 July 2017, the Capitals re-signed Kuznetsov (a restricted free agent) to an eight-year, $62.4 million contract worth $7.8 million per season.[6][7]

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.[8] Kuznetsov's series-clinching overtime winner in Game 6 against Pittsburgh secured the Capitals’ first berth in the Eastern Conference Finals since 1998, ending years of playoff failure against the Penguins.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11]

"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."[12]

— 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.[13]

Kuznetsov scored a power play goal 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."[14] Kuznetsov had the primary assist on each of the two goals by team captain Alexander Ovechkin, his 610th and 611th NHL career goals, surpassing Bobby Hull on the all-time goals list. Of playing with Ovechkin, Kuznetsov said:[14]

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.

On 14 September 2019, the NHL suspended Kuznetsov for three games for cocaine use after video surfaced on social media that showed Kuznetsov and another man sitting at a table that appeared to have lines of cocaine on it; the NHL termed the offense "inappropriate conduct."[15]

Player profileEdit

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."[16] Kuznetsov has played in the shadows of fellow Russian Alexander Ovechkin, but his talent began to gain attention.[17][8]

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."[18] Teammate Lars Eller agrees: "Kuzy has a very high IQ. He’s a very smart player."[19]

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.[20]

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:[21]

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?’

— Capitals 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:[21]

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 scoring goals. His "cellies" (hockey slang for "celebrations") have most prominently included the prancing bird – and earlier the kayak, push-ups, and playing dead.[22] Kuznetsov debuted the bird dance at the 2016 World Cup when he scored an end-to-end goal 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.[22] Kuznetsov claims he brought back the bird because his daughter "loves that stuff."[23] 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.[22]

International playEdit

Evgeny Kuznetsov accepting a post-game award at the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championships
Medal record
Ice hockey
Representing   Russia
World Championships
  2012 Finland/Sweden
  2014 Belarus
  2016 Russia
  2017 Germany/France
World Junior Championships
  2011 United States
  2012 Canada
IIHF World U18 Championship
  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.[24]

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.[25] 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,[26] and was named to the tournament all-star team by the media.[27] He was also named the best player in the match against Norway, in which he recorded one goal and one assist.[28] He finished tied for second in the tournament in scoring, alongside teammate Vladimir Tarasenko, with four goals and seven assists.[29]

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.[30]

On 23 August 2019, the IIHF announced that it had suspended Kuznetsov for four years after testing positive for cocaine use, retroactive to 13 June 2019.[31][32][33] He was stripped of his 2019 World Championship bronze medal as a result.[34]

Personal lifeEdit

Kuznetsov married Anastasiya (Nastya) Kuznetsova (née Zinov'eva) in 2011 in a ceremony at Traktor Ice Arena.[35] The couple have two children, daughter Ecenia (born 2015) and son Fedor (born 2019).[36]

Kuznetsov had an older brother, Alexander, who was tragically killed when a May Day celebration turned violent in 2003. Evgeny was 10 years old, and has few memories of his brother.[37]

Kuznetsov is a keen football fan and an avid supporter of Liverpool F.C.[38]

Career statisticsEdit

Regular season and playoffsEdit

Bold indicates led league

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
2007–08 Traktor–2 Chelyabinsk RUS.3 2 0 0 0 0
2008–09 Traktor–2 Chelyabinsk RUS.3 22 5 11 16 40
2009–10 Belye Medvedi Chelyabinsk MHL 9 4 12 16 8 2 1 2 3 4
2009–10 Traktor Chelyabinsk KHL 35 2 6 8 10 4 1 0 1 0
2010–11 Traktor Chelyabinsk KHL 44 17 15 32 30
2010–11 Belye Medvedi Chelyabinsk MHL 8 10 5 15 4 5 0 2 2 10
2011–12 Traktor Chelyabinsk KHL 49 19 21 40 30 12 7 2 9 10
2012–13 Traktor Chelyabinsk KHL 51 19 25 44 42 25 5 6 11 28
2013–14 Traktor Chelyabinsk KHL 31 8 13 21 12
2013–14 Washington Capitals NHL 17 3 6 9 6
2014–15 Washington Capitals NHL 80 11 26 37 24 14 5 2 7 8
2015–16 Washington Capitals NHL 82 20 57 77 32 12 1 1 2 8
2016–17 Washington Capitals NHL 82 19 40 59 46 13 5 5 10 8
2017–18 Washington Capitals NHL 79 27 56 83 48 24 12 20 32 16
2018–19 Washington Capitals NHL 76 21 51 72 50 7 1 5 6 2
2019–20 Washington Capitals NHL 63 19 33 52 40 8 3 2 5 4
2020–21 Washington Capitals NHL 41 9 20 29 18 3 0 0 0 0
2021–22 Washington Capitals NHL 79 24 54 78 44 6 2 3 5 2
KHL totals 210 65 81 146 124 53 14 9 23 46
NHL totals 599 153 343 496 308 87 29 38 67 48


Year Team Event Result GP G A Pts PIM
2008 Russia U18   4 2 2 4 18
2009 Russia U17 7th 5 6 4 10 6
2009 Russia WJC18   7 6 7 13 10
2010 Russia WJC 6th 6 2 0 2 10
2010 Russia WJC18 4th 7 5 7 12 6
2011 Russia WJC   7 4 7 11 4
2012 Russia WJC   6 6 7 13 2
2012 Russia WC   10 2 4 6 4
2013 Russia WC 6th 3 1 0 1 2
2014 Russia WC   10 1 1 2 4
2016 Russia WC   6 1 1 2 0
2016 Russia WCH 4th 4 2 0 2 6
2017 Russia WC   5 1 2 3 6
2019 Russia WC DSQ 10 2 4 6 6
Junior totals 43 31 34 65 50
Senior totals 48 10 12 22 28

Awards and honorsEdit

Award Year
NHL All-Star Game 2016, 2022
Stanley Cup champion 2018 [39]
WJC18 First Team All-Star 2010 [40]
WJC First Team All-Star 2011, 2012 [41]
WJC Best Forward 2012
WJC Most Valuable Player 2012
WJC All-Decade Team 2019 [42]


  1. ^ NHL Central Scouting (2010). "International Skaters Final Ranking" (PDF). NHL.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 August 2011. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
  2. ^ Kimelman, Adam (26 June 2010). "Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin selections start to wild first round". NHL.com. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
  3. ^ "Vote's result of the 2012 KHL All-Star Game". KHL.com. 2012. Archived from the original on 20 June 2012. Retrieved 10 September 2012.
  4. ^ Davenport, Ryan (4 December 2013). "Predicting the Next 5 Washington Capitals Prospects to Arrive in the NHL". Bleacher Report.
  5. ^ "Capitals agree to terms with Kuznetsov". capitalstoday.com. 8 March 2014. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  6. ^ "Evgeny Kuznetsov re-signs with Capitals for eight years". Sportsnet. 2 July 2017.
  7. ^ "Evgeny Kuznetsov signs eight-year, $62.4 million contract with Capitals". NHL.com. 2 July 2017.
  8. ^ a b Petchesky, Barry (5 June 2018). "This Is Evgeny Kuznetsov's Time". Deadspin. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  9. ^ Raby, Ben (9 May 2018). "Is Evgeny Kuznetsov's game winner the greatest goal in Capitals' history?". WTOP-FM. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
  10. ^ Greenberg, Neil (5 June 2018). "Analysis | Evgeny Kuznetsov should have slight edge over Alex Ovechkin for Conn Smythe". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  11. ^ RotoWire (9 June 2018). "Capitals' Evgeny Kuznetsov: Finishes with league-best 32 playoff points". CBS Sports. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
  12. ^ Ramirez, W.G. (8 June 2018). "Kuznetsov and Holtby prove just as valuable as Ovechkin". The Charlotte Observer. Archived from the original on 13 June 2018. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  13. ^ "Evgeny Kuznetsov and Braden Holtby finish behind Alex Ovechkin in Conn Smythe voting". Russian Machine Never Breaks. 13 June 2018. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  14. ^ a b McNally, Brian (10 October 2018). "Kuznetsov carries Capitals past Golden Knights". NHL.com. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  15. ^ Sadler, Emily (14 September 2019). "NHL suspends Capitals' Kuznetsov three games for inappropriate conduct". Sportsnet. Retrieved 14 September 2019.
  16. ^ "Washington Capitals move one win closer to Stanley Cup title". Fox Sports. Associated Press. 5 June 2018. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  17. ^ Whyno, Stephen (5 June 2018). "Caps' Ovechkin and Kuznetsov inspire Russian players, fans". Associated Press. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  18. ^ Boswell, Thomas (3 March 2016). "What's Russian for 'brilliant'? Evgeny Kuznetsov". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  19. ^ Fox, Luke (1 June 2018). "Evgeny Kuznetsov's practice presence a promising sign for Capitals". Sportsnet. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  20. ^ "Caps' Kuznetsov shakes off injury, scores in Stanley Cup Game 3". Las Vegas Review-Journal. 3 June 2018. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  21. ^ a b Khurshudyan, Isabelle (12 October 2018). "The Caps think Evgeny Kuznetsov is one of the NHL's best, but he just wants to have fun". The Washington Post. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  22. ^ a b c Fox, Luke (29 April 2017). "Kuznetsov doesn't care if bird celebration ruffles feathers". Sportsnet. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ IIHF (6 January 2010). "Best Players per Game" (PDF). IIHF.com. Archived (PDF) from the original on 22 January 2018. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
  25. ^ Meltzer, Bill (5 January 2011). "Russia's comeback kids ready for WJC gold medal game". NHL.com. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
  26. ^ IIHF (5 January 2011). "Best Players of Each Team Selected by Coaches" (PDF). IIHF.com. Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 May 2021. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
  27. ^ IIHF (5 January 2011). "Media All Stars" (PDF). IIHF.com. Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 May 2021. Retrieved 5 January 2011.
  28. ^ IIHF (5 January 2011). "Best Players per Game" (PDF). IIHF.com. Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 May 2021. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
  29. ^ IIHF (5 January 2011). "Scoring Leaders" (PDF). IIHF.com. Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 May 2021. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
  30. ^ Aykroyd, Lucas (29 December 2011). "Nine-point night for Kuznetsov". IIHF.com. Archived from the original on 9 October 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
  31. ^ Wegman, Josh (23 August 2019). "IIHF suspends Kuznetsov 4 years for testing positive for cocaine". theScore. Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  32. ^ "IIHF suspends Kuznetsov". IIHF. 23 August 2019. Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  33. ^ Gaydos, Ryan (7 November 2019). "NHL players' opinions vary on league's alleged cocaine crisis". Fox Sports. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
  34. ^ Panyshev, Pavel (23 August 2019). "Евгений Кузнецов лишён бронзовой медали чемпионата мира—2019". Championat.com (in Russian).
  35. ^ "Photos and Video of Evgeny Kuznetsov's Wedding in Chelyabinsk". Russian Machine Never Breaks. 3 June 2011. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
  36. ^ Oland, Ian (3 June 2019). "Evgeny Kuznetsov's wife gives birth to second child, a boy, named Fedor". Russian Machine Never Breaks. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
  37. ^ Prewitt, Alex (22 January 2019). "Carefree and Unfiltered, Evgeny Kuznetsov Is Washington's Free Bird". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
  38. ^ "Capitals get some quality time with Premier League Trophy". NHL. 27 September 2018. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  39. ^ Shpigel, Ben (7 June 2018). "The Washington Capitals, after years of frustration, win the Stanley Cup". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  40. ^ "Evgeny Kuznetsov Awards and Achievements". Eliteprospects.com. 7 June 2015. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  41. ^ "2011 World Junior Championship Awards". The Sports Network. 5 February 2011. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  42. ^ "IIHF - The World Junior All-Decade Team". IIHF.com. Retrieved 28 December 2019.

External linksEdit

Awards and achievements
Preceded by Washington Capitals first round draft pick
Succeeded by