As the Washington Capitals equalized their semi-final series last night against the Rangers thanks in part to captain Alex Ovechkin, news this morning reached Caps land that their brightest future star won’t join the team come next season. According to the ever reliable Pavel Lysenkov of Sovsport, Kuznetsov has decided to stay in the KHL for not one, but two years.
Kuznetsov told the newspaper that he’s “not ready” to join the team stating he wants to remain in the motherland to prepare for the Olympics. His motive or that of the leagues hierarchy (looking at you Medvedev) is simple. If he leaves or forsakes his country (again this is how the KHL spells it out) he can kiss a spot on the extremely competitive national team goodbye. For a player with the skill set that the one Caps fans call “Kuzya” possesses it would be hard to imagine he would be overlooked by the Russian Hockey Federation.
However things back home are never decided equally and if you anger the suits there’s nothing stopping them from blacklisting you from anything they can control. An argument can also be made that the money he will earn with Traktor Chelyabinsk is a major reason he stays since he is reportedly promised over $2 million next year not to mention a 13% flat income tax rate.
When you compare that to what rookies make in the NHL it’s a pretty significant difference. With that said, the Capitals have little choice but to let him stay and await his return since the man who razzled and dazzled his way through the U-20’s will be staying put for the foreseeable future. That’s how it is in the old west that is the KHL.