We don’t know when Evgeny Kuznetsov will play his first game with the Capitals, and we don’t know where coach Adam Oates will use him, but the reaction to the Caps agreeing to a contract for the 21-year-old prospect was very definitive.
“I’m excited, relieved,” said Brandon Peiler, a 42-year-old Caps fan from Fredricksburg, Va., who was at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Saturday. “I hope it brings a spark to the team.
“I don’t expect miracles to happen, but I just want some more juice flowing in the offensive side – shots on goal, pucks on net.”
Kuznetsov was expected to arrive in Washington Saturday afternoon and sign his first NHL contract, believed to be a two-year entry-level deal worth $1.8 million, later in the day. He is scheduled to skate at Kettler Sunday morning at 8 a.m., followed by a 9 a.m. news conference.
With back-to-back losses to the Flyers followed by a shutout defeat in Boston, the Capitals are in 10th place in the Eastern Conference standings, three points out of a playoff spot.
Fans like Macey Traber, also of Fredericksburg, said she thinks Kuznetsov might be exactly what the Caps need to get into the playoffs.
“I sure hope so,” she said. “I don’t see why he wouldn’t live up to the hype. I think he’ll give us the spark we need.”
Kuznetsov will wear No. 92 and it won’t be long before the jersey is being sold throughout the D.C. region. Becky Peiler, also from Fredericksburg, said she’s not about to part with her Mike Green jersey just yet.
“I feel like I cheat on Mike when I buy other people’s jerseys,” she said. “But I’m absolutely excited for the future of the Caps. We have young talent. Ovi’s excited because [Kuznetsov] is one of his buddies. It's exciting to finally see him play.”
Following his skate on Sunday, Kuznetsov is expected to skate with the Caps on Monday morning, where the club will determine his availability for games against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday at Verizon Center and Tuesday in Pittsburgh.