The Redemption Arc: Evgeny Kuznetsov During The 2021/2022 Season

Evegeny Kuznetsov’s success in Washington looked like was going to have a bright future with the team as his progression truly was special. After winning the Stanley Cup in 2018, where he had a Conn Smythe level performance with 32 points in 24 games, he showed he was a elite level center in the league.

At the time he had just signed a 8 year, $62.4 million dollar extension with the Washington Capitals and it looked like was going to dominate the league for years to come.

However, as time went on, his performances dropped and things only got worse when the media uncovered behavior deemed inappropriate for NHL athletes. In addition to this, he was deemed to be a locker room problem due to the team’s infamous COVID-19 scandals that happened. Kuznetsov had fallen down and was a major name always thrown around in trade rumors.

Kuznetsov was also assumed to be a bad influence on fellow Russian teammate, Ilya Samsonov, who was regarded to be a top goalie prospect in the league. But lacked the confidence and consistency to excel.

(Image Credit: NHL)

However, Kuznetsov has truly proven to make a major difference at the start of the 2021/2022 season as the team had called upon him to revive his career, and rejuvenate the roster.

The 2021/2022 season started out with major injuries to the Washington Capitals line up with superstars like Nicklas Backstrom, TJ Oshie, and Anthony Mantha missing out on games. Backstrom specifically being the main playmaker of the team, and the consistent player that acts as a foundation for the team’s offence.

Kuznetsov this season was promoted to be the second line center, replacing the injuried Nicklas Backstrom, specifically as as the powerplay quarterback, moving from playing behind the net as a puck collector, and someone who is constantly in control of the puck.

Kuznetsov has used his excellent eye for offence to create opportunities for his teammates, with his creativity and quick release of a pass. He has also been used a neutral zone entry point for offence with his strong skating and mobility.

Evgeny has also rekindled his on ice relationship with league all-star and fellow Russian Alex Ovechkin, through their interplay on the first line alongside Tom Wilson, and on the main powerplay unit.

What this has led to is major success from both players this season, as they are dominating the early part of the season.

Ovechkin currently has 18 goals, and 18 assists, for a total of 36 points in 21 games. Kuznetsov has 7 goals, 20 assists, for 27 points in 21 games.

Additionally, Capitals goalie Ilya Samsonov is also sitting at a 8-0-1 record with a .915 save percentage.

(Image Credit: Wikipedia)

All of this has shown that Evgeny Kuznetsov has heard the cries of fans, and realized that his natural ability to be a major impact on the ice, should not hindered by his off-ice unprofessional antics. At the time of need, Kuznetsov has proven so far that he is willing to be a positive impact on the team, and the results have been evident.

Though it is still early in the season, the Washington Capitals are firing on all cylinders with an injured roster. The superstars (who are not out of play) have demonstrated that they are willing to step up and dominate on the ice.


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