Murray: Kuznetsov ready

Murray: Kuznetsov ready
December 4, 2011, 12:52 am
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Under the direction of general manager George McPhee the Capitals have been among the most Russian-friendly teams in the NHL.

And theres no sign of that ending soon, with two of the Capitals top prospects hailing from Russia.

One of them, 20-year-old rookie defenseman Dmitry Orlov, appears to have landed a permanent home on the Capitals blue line.

The other, 19-year-old right wing Evgeny Kuznetsov, recently told Sovietsky Sport that his agent plans on talking to the Capitals during the World Junior Championships later this month in Edmonton and Calgary.

We will meet with representatives of the club and see what they have to offer, Kuznetsov told Sovietsky Sport.

There have been mixed reports out of Russia over whether Kuznetsov, who was taken by the Capitals with the 26th pick overall in the 2010 draft, would like to finish the season with Chelyabinsk Traktor of the Kontinental Hockey League, or make the jump to the NHL following the World Junior Championships, which run through Jan. 5.

Through 28 games with Chelyabinsk the 6-foot-1, 176-pound forward has 12 goals and 10 assists with 12 penalty minutes and is a plus-6.

Hes a heck of a player, Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray said before Saturdays game against his former team. Hes fast, a big kid. Theres no question if they wanted to put him on the team today he could play. Hes a legitimate player in the NHL.

Murray said Kuznetsov was a dominant force in Russias come-from-behind victory over Canada in the gold medal game of the 2011 World Junior Championships in Buffalo, assisting on three goals as Russia erased a 3-0 deficit to win 5-3.

I tried to get George (McPhee) to trade him to me, Murray said. I dont know why he wouldnt.

In the case of Orlov, the Capitals signed the highly touted defenseman to a three-year entry level contract last March, after the conclusion of his season in Russia, and assigned him to the AHL Hershey Bears, where he spent the final month of the regular season.

Like Orlov, Kuznetsov would command the NHL maximum of 900,000, plus significant signing bonuses.

Murray said the Capitals have done a good job of drafting and cultivating their Russian talent, something many other NHL teams dont even attempt to do.

The KHL has been the main reason, Murray said. The top guys who have come over in the past (Alex) Ovechkin, (Igor) Larionov, (Sergei) Fedorov -- come over here and are very happy and are very important players.

But the next level of player, they wont stay. Theyre unhappy. They wont take the time to develop and therefore, weve said if we cant get a top guy you might as well take an American or Canadian.

Weve had three or four in the minors and they get called (from the KHL) every other day to go back. Theyre making 45,000 to 65,000 here in the minors and they can make 70,000 or 80,000 over there.