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McPhee on Kuznetsov: 'It was unanimous'

Moments after drafting Evgeny Kuznetsov with the 26th overall pick, GM George McPhee revealed that he had been willing to trade up as many as 10 spots to nab the player he and his scouts had targeted as their 2010 first-round selection.

Turns out he didn't need to. Kuznetsov was right there when Gary Bettman announced that it was Washington's turn.

Here's my story from Staples Center, and here are a few items of interest about the Caps' newest Russian:

*He can line up at wing or center, though McPhee said the Caps drafted him with the hope he'll become a play-making pivot.

*He's listed at 6 foot, 172 pounds (which might be a little generous).

*He scored two goals and notched seven assists as an 18-year-old for Chelyabinsk of the KHL. He really made a name for himself in three international tournaments: world juniors (where he scored two goals in six games with McPhee watching) and two under-18 tournaments in Belarus.

*Alex Ovechkin called Kuznetsov tonight to congratulate him tonight and say, "See you in training camp."

*McPhee said having Ovechkin on the Caps is like having a guarantee that Russian draft picks will eventually want to make their way to Washington.

"People are concerned about signing and drafting Russian players, but we just feel that what we're doing [with] Ovechkin, that he'll play in Washington," McPhee said. "We can do some things that other teams are afraid to do."

*Kuznetsov met Alexander Semin on a number of occasions when Semin was playing in Chelyabinsk.

*Kuznetsov has two years remaining on his contract with Chelyabinsk, but I'm told the buyout is not significant. McPhee said the youngster will likely spend next year in the KHL next season, anyway.

That's it for tonight. The Caps hold picks 86, 116, 142, 146 and 176 on Saturday.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  June 26, 2010; 12:48 AM ET
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Next: Day 2 of draft underway


Crap pick. Who cares

Posted by: doughless | June 26, 2010 1:54 AM | Report abuse

ESPN seems to like the guy as do the scouts they talked to.

Scouts thought that Kuznetsov was the best player at the February U-18 invitational in Belarus. He has great skills and great skating. Signability was the only thing that caused him to drop out of the top eight. Kuznetsov has a two-year deal with his KHL club, but the Capitals had to have done their homework. Not quite sure that this addresses a need (at least immediately) but you have to expect deals (Tomas Fleischmann, Alexander Semin) might follow. It's not like this team lacked offense. Last year it had skilled forwards who couldn't find ice time.

Posted by: icehammer97 | June 26, 2010 3:08 AM | Report abuse

@doughless At the pick they were at there was no one that was a NHL ready D-man for this season and unless there was someone who was willing to trade one for the pick this pick couldn't have "filled a need" as you put it. Also considering what I have read about this kid he could be the second line center we need just in a year or two.

Posted by: icehammer97 | June 26, 2010 3:10 AM | Report abuse

Mike Green, Jeff Schultz, John Carlson, Carl Alzner along with Goalies Neuvy and Varly. Do we need 6 young defensive prospects ready to play in 2010 to make everyone happy? 2 free agents/current players should be enough to round out a third defensive line.

Posted by: RedskinsXXVI | June 26, 2010 4:29 AM | Report abuse

in other words they weren't gonna draft Mark Tinordi's son regardless so the people hoping for that were gonna be disappointed anyway...

in the NFL they say championship teams are built on the second day of the draft... if that were the case in the NHL as well, they would have no hope judging by their picks in later rounds.

Posted by: joek443 | June 26, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Suggestin Evgeny; start your english lessons now, it'll help you be a better teammate.

Posted by: 23lil | June 26, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Steve_R | June 26, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Tarik joins us live in about 30 minutes to talk Caps hockey on Japers' Rink Radio at The show will also be archived at that site and on itunes.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | June 26, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

I like this pick.

And I like this assessment of our situation:


28th Overall Selection: C Evgeni Kuznetsov – Traktor (KHL)

Organizational Summary: Goaltending is very solid for the Washington Capitals and is likely to be so for years with Semyon Varlamov already in Washington and more coming up the pipeline, see Michal Neuvirth. They have a few potential impact prospects at the defensive position such as John Carlson, Dmitri Orlov and Karl Alzner. They need depth through out the skating positions as graduation has depleted the high-end talent considerable. They need to continue to add skilled forwards as the Salary Cap will undoubtedly hit their NHL roster sooner rather than later and they will be looking to supplement with cheaper youth.

Pick Summary: Washington has no problem going back to the deep Russian well as they have more incentives than the average NHL team to lour them and keep them in North America, like the chance to play with the world’s top Russian Hockey Player, Alex Ovechkin. Kuznetsov give the Caps a skilled forward in the system that will be a cheap addition once cap trouble starts rearing its head."

High end O is something that we have lacked in our farm system for a while.

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | June 26, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | June 26, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Crap pick. Who cares

Posted by: doughless | June 26, 2010 1:54 AM | Report abuse

that's odd, everything I've read from reputable sources suggest this guy is a top 10-12 lower than 18th best in the class. Top notch scorer who can finish and may play with some grit. But if doughless thinks it's a crap pick I suppose I'll go with that. I mean, if GMGM was any good we would have found an NHL ready crease clearing dman or 2C at number 26.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | June 26, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse


He can play C as well

Posted by: Steve_R | June 26, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Steve, yeah I read that. I was being facesious with doughless. Sounds like a nice pick for the future. Seems like some folks think the 26th pick should step right in and fill a hole right now. Need to be thinking two and three years down the line when semin is gone amongst others.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | June 26, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Tarik, could you please ask GMGM what was with that smile and wink at the camera right before he went up for to pick Kuznetsov?

Posted by: pkendrick | June 26, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Nutless still thinks this is the 70's & the cold war is still on & that figure skating only has the double axel.
Oh & he forgot that his pink dress is still @ the cleaners...that's why it's a crappy day for nutless.

Posted by: Rocc00 | June 27, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

Again no tough guys picked at Center or D. Lousy. Just what the Caps need is more Europeon players with a finese game. Mcphee refuses to add a tough guy D man. Tinordi would have been nice. Good genes and size with a hint of meaness. The Caps probably would have passed on Scott Steven or Chris pronger or Myers in the draft. We want a fast Russian forward. Why would you want someone who can play defense with toughness and meaness.

Posted by: pkme | June 27, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

pkme your ignorance is showing, that d-man you dream of wouldn't be available at this pick - the Caps got a legit blue-chip talent at #26, that is incredible.

Also - if you think Myers is 'tough' you clearly don't watch Buffalo play very often. He is a skilled d-man to be sure, but he hits even less than Jeff Schultz. Tall does not = gritty.

Posted by: govtimbo | June 27, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

If you take a look at Washington's body of work over the last decade of drafts, they have one of the best records in the league as it relates to getting guys in the NHL (the last ranking I saw had them 5th out of 30 teams). Toss Ovechkin out (that was a no-brainer much as I would tell PIT fans to not factor Crosby in any draft ratings- that was a total "golden ticket lottery" situation that required zero scouting ability); Backstrom and Toews are by far the class of the 2006 Draft (to think PIT could have picked either one at #2 and instead went for J Staal...not exactly the stuff of brilliance), Green was a late 1st round pick (over 2/3 of the league could have had him). Alzner has been a cap victim. Carlson...VERY highly thought of by other clubs.

In other words, Washington's scouts know what they are doing and their track record bears this out.

Posted by: jcurrin | June 30, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

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