CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – While General Manager George McPhee said last week that it is “not my expectation” to have Evgeny Kuznetsov join the Washington Capitals this spring, the 2010 first-round draft pick will have quite the host whenever he does come to North America.
In an interview posted on Traktor Chelyabinsk’s Web site Thursday (s/t Russian Machine), Kuznetsov said he and his wife will live with Alex Ovechkin once he arrives in Washington, and the star winger confirmed that on Friday.
“When he going to come he’s going to stay at my place for however long he needs,” Ovechkin said. “I’m going to show him around, going to help him. It’s his first time [in North America]. It’s going to be like me and Zubi. I’m going to show him around, going to show him the team and welcome him to the team. It’s going to be good for him.”
When Ovechkin first came to the NHL, Dainius Zubrus served as his roommate on the road and confidant and generally helped him find his way in an entirely new culture and league (Zubrus is now with the New Jersey Devils). Ovechkin, who has often opened his home to the Capitals’ Russian prospects over the years, wants to make sure Kuznetsov has someone to lean on like he did.
“I’ve been in this situation. I know how tough it is for first year guy come to new league with new guys, especially with different language,” Ovechkin said. “He knows a little bit [of English] but not a lot. I’m going to help him with that. Most important thing is he’s going to feel comfortable, his wife is going to feel comfortable.”
It’s still unclear exactly when Kuznetsov, 21, will join the Capitals because Washington is unable to sign the highly touted prospect until Traktor Chelyabinsk’s season ends, which depends on how they fare in the KHL playoffs. Ovechkin will make sure Kuznetsov is met with open arms when he does reach the NHL, though.
“I’m pretty excited, I’m pretty sure he’s excited, fans excited. It’s been a long time to talk about it,” Ovechkin said. “Most important thing is the guys have to realize he’s coming and he has to be welcome here.”