Thursday, June 24, 2010

Draft Prospect Profile: Evgeny Kuznetsov

EVGENY KUZNETSOV
Position: Center
Shoots: Left
Height: 6'0
Weight: 172
Born: May 19, 1992 in Chelyabinsk, RUS
2009-10 Team: Traktor (KHL)
2009-10 Stats: 35 GP, 2 G, 9 PTS
RANKINGS
ISS: 19
Central Scouting: 3(Europe Skaters)
TSN: 24
THN: 18

SCOUTING REPORTS
“He is a classical Russian hockey player — fast, skillful, talented. He is also a leader on the ice, he was captain of the Russian Under-18 team and he had an excellent tournament. He is very skilled.”
- NHL Director of European Scouting, Goran Stubb

“Very dynamic skill level. Extremely quick, soft hands. Controls the puck like he’s got it on a string and holds onto it for an extra split second, giving linemates time to cut to open ice for his decisive feeds. Superb patience around the net – outwaits goalies and always forces them to make the first move. Tremendous natural sniper who buries his chances.”
- Red Line Report Draft Guide 2010

“A very smooth puck handler who can beat defenders one on one, Kuznetsov requires very little time or space to score goals and can do so off the rush or with his very good shot from almost anywhere in the offensive zone.”
- International Scouting Services NHL Draft Guide 2010

“He really has that high-end Russian skill. I don’t want to say (Ilya) Kovalchuk or (Alex) Ovechkin because that’s not right, but he is that style of player.”
- The Hockey News Draft Preview 2010

"Evgeny Kuznetsov is the stereotypical highly-skilled Russian forward who can be the dominant force in one game and then invisible the next. Most teams have Burmistrov and Tarasenko rated ahead of Kuznetsov but not all of them and it’s not inconceivable, albeit an outside shot, that he could still be the first Russian player taken in the draft. But, again, the Russian Factor leaves us all befuddled in terms of where and when he could be selected."
- Bob Mckenzie

VIDEO

CONCLUSION
It sounds like there's no denying Kuznetsov's talent.  He could easily be a top-10 pick if he was a kid from North America.  Most mock drafts have him as a late-first round or early second rounder based on the 'Russian Factor.'  Check out what Kuznetsov had to say after he signed a two-year extension with Traktor. 
"Leaving Chelyabinsk makes no sense to me. I'm under contract with Traktor for further two seasons and I'll leave the team only if the management would release me. I don't want to have bad relationships with my home club. I will go to America later this month, to have the Draft Combine. Then I will further practice. I'll take part to the Draft in Los Angeles. Then I want to skate in the training camp of the team that will pick me up. I really want to see the practices and the preparation for the new season. Then I will get back to Traktor."
Doesn't sound like he's in any hurry to come to North America.  Based on that factor alone, I'd say Dean Lombardi probably wouldn't be interested in this kid.  I think the Kings do need to target some more high-end offensive talent to go along with the grinders and character guys they've drafted over the past couple seasons but I'm not so sure Kuznetsov's the answer here. 

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