Kuznetsov skates with fourth line

Published: Mar 10, 2014 12:23pm EDT
By Jeff Kryglik, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Mar 10, 2014 @ 12:23pm EDT

 

ARLINGTON, Va. - With Evgeny Kuznetsov finally making his way to Washington, D.C., the 21-year-old will look to start his NHL career Monday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins on the fourth line.

Donning No. 92, Kuznetsov worked at left wing along with Jay Beagle at center and Tom Wilson at right wing. But don't expect the former KHL star to be restricted to just the fourth line, nor should it be expected for him to see beyond the project 6-12 minutes of ice time as head coach Adam Oates told the Washington Post Sunday.

With Mikhail Grabovski still on the shelf with an injured ankle and Brooks Laich a game-time decision, there is undoubtedly going to be some moving and shaking with the forwards on the Capitals. Aaron Volpatti was one of the players who saw some extra action Monday morning with the top line in place of Laich and it will remain unknown until before the opening faceoff as to what the final lines will look like against the Penguins.

Either way, Kuznetsov will be playing. It may be a small sample size, but this is a similar approach that Washington has taken with prospects in the past. Not a lot of practice time. Throw them into the fire. See what they can do. It made Alexander Ovechkin and Marcus Johansson better players - two former first-round selections - so the club opted to go with this approach once again with Kuznetsov.

The club won't throw him into the fire too much, nor will they anoint him as the Messiah of the 2013-14 season. Oates reiterated that by placing him on the fourth line, it allows him to "earn his stripes" and to evolve and develop as a hockey player. 

Which is the right move.

This isn't a player you place in the AHL at this stage of the game. If his arrival was sooner in the season, a stint in the minors couldn't hurt the young gun. But with just 17 games left - the hardest remaining schedule in the NHL - this small sample size can better help Adam Oates and general manager George McPhee gage where Kuznetsov is in comparison to the rest of his teammates and to see how his games adjusts to the National Hockey League's pace.

He will be playing with a chip on his shoulder as he was frustrated to not be selected to Team Russia for the Sochi Winter Olympics. He also has the self-motivation of being labeled as a "savior" working on his side. As much pressure as that carries, Kuznetsov appears up to the task and is taking all of the media attention in stride.

How long he will remain on the fourth line and how effective he will be at the NHL level remains to be seen. Having his first NHL start come against Pittsburgh is quite the litmus test and if he passes his first exam, he will get to taste what a back-to-back feels like against the Eastern Conference leaders.

What's important to the Capitals is winning at all costs as they still find themselves out of a playoff spot. If Kuznetsov provides enough of an added spark, Washington won't have to temper their excitement of No. 92 being a factor come playoff time. 


 

Comments (1)



  • Jeff Kryglik   Mar 10, 2014 @ 01:02PM
    Photo Credit: Chris Gordon - CapsSnaps.com -

Jeff Kryglik
Sports Writer

 

Avg. Readership (monthly)
2,045

 

Followers (writers)
3

 

Last Active
90+ days ago

 

 

 

 

Other Features

Greg Gianforte: Exploding Prairie Dogs, Assault, & Early Voters


Pokemon Go Wants Your Data, But Not Your Personal Data


Is E3 A Joke?

 


Take a Tour   ·   Contact Us   ·   Privacy statement Konsume Media LLC 2016. All rights reserved.

Generated in 0.192 seconds in which 0.175 seconds were spent on a total of 49 queries. Zlib compression enabled.