The Capitals should be breathing a sigh of relief tonight after a report on the Traktor Chelyabinsk hockey club website stated that the knee injury suffered by Capitals top forward prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov earlier today is not as serious as originally feared.
Kuznetsov, considered the top player in the Kontinental Hockey League, was carried off the ice on a stretcher in the closing minutes of his team's game after he collided with defenseman Andre Benoit. After the game, Traktor coach Evgeny Belousov said he thought Kuznetsov might be sidelined for the remainder of the season.
Later, the club's website reported that MRIs on Kuznetsov's knee were negative and that he could be back in the lineup as early as March 1 for the start of the Gagarin Cup playoffs.
Despite requests from CSNwashington.com, Capitals general manager George McPhee declined to comment on the injury.
"We are aware that Evgeny Kuznetsov sustained an injury during his last game with Traktor Chelyabinsk of the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia," Capitals director of media relations Sergey Kocharov wrote in an email. "We are currently in the process of gathering all of the information."
Kuznetsov, 19, was taken by the Capitals with the 26th overall pick of the 2010 draft. He has not yet signed a contract with the Caps but is expected to begin negotiations that would make him a Capital prior to the 2012 training camp.