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NHL? KHL? Capitals star prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov’s future still a mystery

Dmitry Chesnokov
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Evgeny Kuznetsov is the No. 1 prospect in the NHL, according to The Hockey News. Selected in the first round of the 2010 NHL Draft by the Washington Capitals, he was viewed as someone who could get the franchise back on track after what has turned out to be a nightmarish season in the nation's capital.

After this year's World Junior final Kuznetsov said he would announce his decision on whether he would come to the NHL next season after the KHL season is over. No amount of pressure from the media could get an answer from him. Until two days ago, when Kuznetsov, talking to KHL-TV, said he made up his mind that he "was going to continue [his] career in the KHL."

Although Kuznetsov also said he was still uncertain about which club he was going to end up with.

It has been quite obvious that the KHL need their young stars to stay in the League to become new faces of KHL hockey. It is evident that Alexander Radulov will leave for Nashville sooner or later and Kuznetsov would be a perfect fit to take over.He is very articulate, smart, candid, has a sense of humor. He is good with interviews and has quite a charisma. And he actually wouldn't mind to stay and play at home. "If I was given a 10-year contract, I would stay and wouldn't [go anywhere]." Kuznetsov told PROSport magazine.

But Thursday night, his agent Valery Gushchin spoke with Radio Sport in Russia and cautiously backtracked from his client's comments.

Gushchin said that all offers will be considered after May 1 (KHL contracts expire on April 30). Gushchin said that at this point Kuznetsov's mind is set on his team, Traktor, and winning in the KHL playoffs, and that the decision will be made after April 30.

Gushchin's comments mean that whatever Kuznetsov said on that TV show (the clip of which hasn't been posted online yet) is not a final decision at all. It is likely that the camp is trying to hike the price for the player services in the KHL. Salavat Yulaev, resigning to losing Radulov, have already started negotiating with the young forward. However, it is virtually impossible for Kuznetsov to get a guaranteed 10-year contract.

All this means that the deal itself is the No. 1 priority. The recent struggles of the Capitals and Hunter's dump and chase hockey are less of a factor, if a factor at all.

Besides, with the Capitals not having a second line center since they decided that Sergei Fedorov was too old and too expensive, Kuznetsov would certainly get his chances in the NHL, regardless of whether it is Hunter or anyone else behind the bench.

The door is not closed at all on the NHL for Kuznetsov.

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