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2018-19 Rink Wrap: Evgeny Kuznetsov

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From Backstrom to Wilson, we’re taking a look at and grading the 2018-19 season for every player who laced ‘em up for the Stanley Cup Champion Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2019-20. Next up, Evgeny Kuznetsov.

San Jose Sharks v Washington Capitals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Regular season

Playoffs

Key Stat: Evgeny Kuznetsov’s faceoff percentage was a career-low 38.7% this season, winning just 396 of 1,023 matchups at the dot. He has yet to finish a season at or above 50%, and his faceoff differential of -212 this year was the worst in the league.

The Good: Kuznetsov can be so breathtakingly impressive on the ice. He has this incredible ability to out-maneuver his opponents, and his stick handling is out of this world. His offensive production has been solid since his 2015-16 season, although his points did drop off a bit with 72 after last season’s career-high of 83. His 0.95 points per game ranked second on the team to Ovechkin’s 1.10, and was tied for 16th in the league among forwards with at least 70 games.

Kuznetsov had three four-point games this season, which led the team, and he held the longest assist streak at eight games from November 30 through December 15, tallying nine total assists. He also hit two big milestones this season; he reached 300 career points against the Red Wings on January 6 with a beautiful assist on a Tom Wilson goal, and he hit the 100 goal mark on March 20 against Tampa Bay.

The Bad: Kuznetsov is a defensive liability, and his inconsistent offensive production can only make up for it some of the time. Opposing offenses become more of a threat when Kuznetsov is on the ice; shot rates against jumped from +3% without him to +29% with him compared to league average. He has never really been known as a defensive-minded forward, but his defense (or lack thereof) has become alarming.

Kuznetsov’s sloppy play also manifested in a career high in penalties this season. The Capitals had a penalty problem all season, and Kuznetsov had the third-most on the team with 25, behind Tom Wilson (35) and Michal Kempny (30).

Kuznetsov spent a good portion playing this season like an average NHLer, but that’s not where his proven skill level is. He is unpredictable and inconsistent, and only he can flip the switch on his rollercoaster-like play.

The Video:

The Charts:

The Discussion: It’s no secret that Kuznetsov’s play was frustrating at times this season. What are the most important areas for him to improve on for next season? Does it have to be more of a mental switch or a physical switch? What would it take for you to give him a ‘10’ next season?

Other Kuznetsov Season Reviews: Peerless, RMNB

The Vote: Rate Kuznetsov below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.

Poll

How do you rate Evgeny Kuznetsov’s 2018-19 season?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    10
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    9
    (0 votes)
  • 4%
    8
    (8 votes)
  • 15%
    7
    (27 votes)
  • 16%
    6
    (29 votes)
  • 13%
    5
    (25 votes)
  • 29%
    4
    (52 votes)
  • 18%
    3
    (33 votes)
  • 1%
    2
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    1
    (3 votes)
179 votes total Vote Now