Capitals fans hoping to see top forward prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov for the stretch run will need to start rooting against his KHL team, Traktor Chelyabinsk.
The Capitals cannot sign Kuznetsov, their first pick of the 2010 NHL draft, until the KHL season is over.
The KHL regular season ends on Tuesday and Traktor holds the eighth and final playoff spot in the East Conference with a record of 18-21-2 for 74 points [three points are awarded for regulation wins].
Two points behind Traktor in ninth place is Admiral with a 19-23-1 record. Both teams have two games remaining and if Admiral can overtake Traktor on Tuesday, Kuznetsov will be free to sign with the Capitals.
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If Traktor holds onto the eighth spot, the Caps will need to wait at least another 10 days for Kuznetsov, who is likely to commit to play in the KHL playoffs.
Traktor closes its regular season with games against Torpedo [24-16-2] on Sunday and Akbars [26-13-1] on Tuesday. Admiral closes its regular season with Sibir [21-17-1] on Saturday and Amur [8-28-1] on Tuesday.
To simplify, Caps fans who want Kuznetsov wearing a Capitals uniform ASAP need to root for Traktor to lose to a pair of teams above them in the standings, while rooting for Admiral to beat either Sibir on Saturday or last-place Amur on Tuesday.
Get that chant ready: “Let’s Go Admiral!”
Never mind. …
Assuming the Caps can make enough room under the cap to sign Kuznetsov [believed to be $900,000], where would you put the playmaking, left-handed shooting forward, who in 29 games for Traktor has seven goals, 13 assists and is a minus-9?
Assuming Marty Erat is moved by Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline, how do these forward combinations strike you?
Kuznetsov – Backstrom – Ovechkin
Laich - Johansson –Brouwer
Chimera – Fehr – Ward
Volpatti - Beagle – Wilson
Of course, once Mikhail Grabovski is fully recovered he could slide onto the third line and Fehr could drop to fourth line left wing.
What are your thoughts?