Next year’s Capitals roster is expected to look a lot like this year’s – with a few changes, of course. Some veterans may be jettisoned, and general manager George McPhee said on exit day that the organization had some exciting young prospects who could make the leap.
At least one of them won’t be in Washington next year, as Evgeny Kuznetsov signed a one-year deal with Traktor of Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, according to a report by the news agency Sovietsky Sport. The hot shot prospect who is believed to be more than NHL ready will spend another season in his home country.
Last year Kuznetsov had 17 goals and 15 assists in 44 games for Traktor.
The day after the Caps’ season ended, McPhee was asked about Kuznetsov and defenseman Dmitri Orlov as guys who could make an impact sooner rather than later and he compared them to rookie Marcus Johansson.
“Those are the types of players we have to look at, because they’re really good young players and I think they are a lot like Marcus,” McPhee said. “Real good players and difference-makers.”
But Kuznetsov’s status with the KHL has been up in the air, with this move expected to solidify his staying in Russia through 2011-12. It may change the Caps’ plans, but it’s not entirely unexpected.
“He may want to play another year, and if he feels he needs another year in Russia, he can do it,” McPhee said earlier in the month.
Orlov, a slick puck-moving defenseman who made his Hershey Bears debut this season, could be on the roster if the right pieces fall into place. McPhee talked about a need for more puck-movers after his team was swept out of the playoffs by the Lightning.