In this past summer’s NHL entry draft, the Washington Capitals went Russian with their first two draft picks. Their first of choice of the day saw them select Evgeny Kuznetsov (1st round/26th overall) and then with their next pick they went with Stanislav Galiev (3rd round/86th overall). The two are very different players and are taking different paths to get to the NHL to help prepare them to make the jump.
Evgeny Kuznetsov became the 7th Russian player the Capitals drafted in the first three rounds of the last seven NHL drafts and it’s easy to see why. The left handed right winger fits into the same mold as his future Capital teammate, Alex Ovechkin. He’s extremely gifted offensively and not afraid of physical play but can struggle when asked to play defense. Kuznetsov has also represented Russia on the international stage as a 17 year old playing in U-18 and U-20 World Junior tournaments, including being named to the WJC all-star team in the U-18 tournament.
After this past season in Russia he extended his contract for two seasons further which he will likely finish out. As an 18-year-old prospect with a lot of raw talent, he will do well to continue his growing at home in Russia. In the KHL he will be able to play on the bigger ice surface and continue his offensive growth without the worries of adapting to life in America. When he finally arrives stateside he will still be young enough that he wont need to be pushed into Washington’s top six.
With their second pick in the draft, Washington chose center Stanislav Galiev. Currently playing for the St. John Sea Dogs in the QMJHL, Galiev put up 60 points in 67 games and broke out in the playoffs putting up 19 points in 21 games. Moving to America early has proven beneficial to Stanislav as he has adapted to the physical side of play but still has a lot of room to grow. Listed at 6’1” and 178 pounds by the Capitals, he still needs to fill out physically.
Following training camp in Washington Galiev will return to juniors according to the Capitals. Here he’ll continue to grow physically and adapt to living in America.Although the Capitals took two Russian players in this past summer’s draft, the two players are taking different paths to make it to the NHL. Their top pick Evgeny Kuznetsov will remain in Russia for another two years unlike Stanislav Galiev who has already jumped into North American hockey.
Each is taking a path which should help them develop their own style of play and it’s possible that the two will be together one day on a line in America’s capital city.