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Passing Data: Kuznetsov the Key For Capitals

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A quick look at how Evgeny Kuznetsov is playing a pivotal role in the Capitals' prolific offense.

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

During the offseason we took a look at the great passing data that Ryan Stimson and his team put together; fortunately for us, that data is again available for the 2015-16 season. Let's take a quick look at player involvement (or player contributions):

No Capitals player plays a larger role in the team's offense while he is on the ice than Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov is either the shot taker or the primary passer in over 55%, and lays a hand on over 80%, of all tracked Capitals shot attempts that occur while he is on the ice.

Looking at passing rate stats (courtesy of Sean Tierney), it's apparent just how much Kuznetsov is contributing. Kuznetsov leads the team in primary passes that lead to shot attempts per 60 minutes. What makes that surprising is that the Capitals only generate 54.3 Shot Attempts per every 60 minutes that he's on the ice. Kuznetsov is an extremely creative player who appears to prefer physical (rather than theoretical) puck possession over taking low quality shots. That might explain why the team doesn't generate more SAT while he is on the ice and why over 50% of the shot attempts that they do take are scoring chances (30.14).

Given how involved he is in the play, it's not surprising that Kuznetsov currently leads the Capitals in five-on-five points per 60 (2.32) while maintaining an Individual Point Percentage that is in line with his overall SAT involvement (80%). While Holtby has been the clear-cut team MVP to start the season, it's hard to find a skater who has contributed more than the 23-year-old Russian.