While it was only a light workout, they were able to see signs of the skill set that has the organization excited about Kuznetsov’s trajectory in the NHL. But the veteran players also know not to put too much pressure on Kuznetsov as he makes his NHL debut.
“It’s not like we traded for Wayne Gretzky in his prime. He’s a young kid, you can’t put too much expectations on him,” Jason Chimera said. “It’s a big learning curve coming to the NHL, so hopefully he can help out. He’s a skilled kid, he’s a really good player, but expectations have got to be downplayed because everyone think he’s second coming. So you’ve got to really take it easy on the kid and not put too much pressure on him. He’s got to play his game and if he does, I think he’ll help us out.”
Count Alex Ovechkin, who played three games with Kuznetsov during the 2011-12 world championships and is hosting the forward at his house in Arlington, among those also looking to diffuse pressure placed on the newest Capital.
For as much talent as Kuznetsov has, the small ice and NHL game will require adjustments from the 21-year-old.
“Everybody knows he has skill,” Ovechkin said. “But I don’t think we have to expect tonight five goals and lots of points. The kid just have to play normal game and be himself.”
Troy Brouwer noted that Kuznetsov’s smooth skating ability and savvy puck handling stood out during the morning skate. He also knows that while Kuznetsov will make his NHL debut starting on the Capitals’ fourth line no one expects him to reside there for long.
“That’s just to feel him out and get him involved a little bit after the long flight and everything. I’m not exactly sure where he’ll play but he’ll move up the lineup,” Brouwer said. “He’s a highly touted prospect here, he’s waited a couple years to come over but we expect big things out of him and hopefully too much pressure doesn’t dawn on him and he can just go out and play hockey.”