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Kuznetsov wants to be a Capital 'my whole career'

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Kuznetsov wants to be a Capital 'my whole career'

For nearly four years, Evgeny Kuznetsov spurned the Capitals’ efforts to sign him, opting instead to play for his hometown Chelyabinsk of the KHL. At the time, fans wondered just how much Kuznetsov wanted to leave Russia and begin his NHL career.

Now, with his second full season in the NHL just around the corner and a new baby and new contract in his possession, Kuznetsov appears to be a 23-year-old man willing to plant roots in the nation’s capital.

“I want to stay here, probably my whole career,” Kuznetsov said earlier this week after skating with nearly a dozen teammates. “Why not? My wife likes it here. My parents like it. I like it. It’s a good city and a good hockey team. It’s perfect.”

Less than two weeks after his wife, Nastia, gave birth to their first child, a baby girl named Ecenia, on Memorial Day, Kuznetsov signed a two-year, $6 million contract extension with the Capitals .

“We had a nice conversation, I want to say like friendly, with respect for the Caps and the Caps respect for me,” Kuznetsov said. “We got a deal quickly. That was important to me. I wanted it to be done by July 5, I don’t want to go to arbitration.”

By agreeing to a bridge deal, Kuznetsov will still be a restricted free agent at the conclusion of his new contract, leaving open the possibility of a long-term agreement between him and the Capitals.  

“Every hockey player wants  long term, right?” he said. “But I think my deal is perfect for both sides right now because I’m young and if I play good we sign a long deal. It’s all about time. I have to show not only one season how I play. I have to play two more years like that and we’ll see.”

After a slow start to last season, Kuznetsov gained a better grasp of his responsibilities under Barry Trotz’s system and he flourished in the final month of the regular season, recording five goals and five assists in the Caps’ final 15 regular season games.

He followed with a strong playoff, adding five goals and two assists in 14 games.

Shortly after the Caps were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs, Kuznetsov remained in D.C. and became a father. Since the birth of his daughter, he has been back to Russia just once for a one-week visit. And since he traveled alone, his parents have not yet seen their grand daughter, other than on FaceTime.

“It’s a new life,” he said. “Right now you understand what kind of road your parents had 23 years ago and you start to respect more your parents. Seriously. Sometimes it’s tough, but now you understand.”

Kuznetsov said his parents are due to arrive in Washington in October, when they can hold their grandchild and see their son play in a few NHL games. He said he was asked many questions by his friends and family during his brief stay in Russia this summer, the most often being, “How is America?”

And what does he tell them?

“Everything’s perfect,” he said with a smile. “Don’t watch the news. Everybody respect me and I respect the people. I feel comfortable. I know how you talk with people and people talk to you the same way. If you’re a nice guy everybody talk to you good. Life rules. You have to respect people.”

As a new father, Kuznetsov said he sees life from a different lens. Following his daily workouts at Kettler he returns home to prepare lunch and dinner for his family, while getting as much playtime with Ecenia as possible.

“It’s been lots of fun,” he said. “I spend all of my free time with my daughter. She’s starting to smile. When you start to talk, she smiles. Being a father is cool, it opens up a new life for you.”

MORE CAPITALS: Can Kuznetsov adequately replace Backstrom?

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Caps prospect watch: Boyd dedicates 4-goal performance to daughter after week in the hospital

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Caps prospect watch: Boyd dedicates 4-goal performance to daughter after week in the hospital

It would have been understandable if Travis Boyd struggled this past week. Something more important was on his mind.

Boyd spent the week in the hospital with his daughter, Hayden, who had been experiencing pain in her throat. He spent the enitre week in the hospital, not leaving until Hershey's game against Laval.

Boyd turned this trial into something incredible as he scored four goals Friday in Hershey's 6-3 win.

Boyd spoke about the ordeal with Zach Fisch of the Bears Radio Network (transcription via RMNB).

“It actually started after the game last Sunday against Rochester," he said. "I went straight from the rink to Urgent Care and then from Urgent Care to the ER. Never left the hospital until Friday morning. We had a successful surgery on Thursday night. Basically just a bad infection in her throat that had to be surgically removed. They had to surgically go in and kind of remove the bacteria and drain out the fluids. Everything went well. She’s doing well.”

Following the game, Boyd dedicated his performance to Hayden.

A four-goal game at the AHL level would have been an incredible accomplishment on its own. The fact that it came during such a trying time for him makes this a truly inspirational story.

You can watch highlights of the game including all four of Boyd's goals here:

CHECK OUT THIS WEEK’S UPDATED CAPS’ PROSPECT RANKINGS HERE

Other prospect notes:

  • In the Bears' game Friday against Laval, Riley Barber dropped the gloves with Markus Eisenchmid.  Barber was given an extra minor and game misconduct for instigating the fight in the final five minutes of the game. That penalty carries with it an automatic one-game suspension which Barber served Saturday. Here's a look at the fight.

  • Liam O'Brien had a pair of two-goal games over the week, scoring twice against Laval Friday and then two more against Toronto on Monday. Of his four goals, three of them were empty netters.
  • As the Capitals prepare for their Stadium Series game in Annapolis on March 3, Annapolis mayor Gavin Buckley—a native of Perth, Australia—made a plea to see Nathan Walker recalled for the game.  “I’ll have to put a quick shout out to the one Australian that’s playing for the Caps now, Nathan Walker. If you could just bring him up for this game, that’d be great. Because an Australian being in a hockey game is like a Jamaican bobsled team. It doesn’t happen very often.”

  • Brian Pinho was honored Friday in Providence College's Senior Night. He has served as captain of the team this season and as an assistant captain in his junior year. He spoke with The Cowl on what being a leader on the team means to him. "I think being a leader of this team is a great honor, but also a huge responsibility. I try to keep everything fun at the rink, while also bringing some intensity and competing hard every day.” You can read the full story here.
  • Goalie Adam Carlson, who was on loan to the Indy Fuel of the ECHL, was reassigned to the Kansas City Mavericks also of the ECHL. He started two games for his new team and turned aside 42 of the 48 total shots he faced.

Who are the Caps' top 10 prospects? Find out here in his week's updated rankings.

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Game 61: Capitals at Panthers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 61: Capitals at Panthers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Florida Panthers

Where: BB&T Center, Sunrise, Fla.

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Panthers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Panthers game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-PANTHERS GAME?

The Capitals (34-19-7) take on the Panthers (26-25-6) Tuesday, February 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Florida.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-PANTHERS GAME ON?

The Capitals-Panthers game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:30 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:30 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:30 p.m. — Capitals at Panthers
10:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:30 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-PANTHERS GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Panthers game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Michal Kempny - Brooks Orpik

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-PANTHERS GAME?

The Capitals-Panthers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

CAPITALS-PANTHERS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.