Vladimir Kuznetsov has all the tools you’d want in a potential high-scoring hockey player. He’s a versatile winger who at 6-2, 214 might appear to be a bit chunky but when you see him up close you realize that he just has a big frame and is big boned.
He did a nice job at the U18s playing with mostly 17-year-olds who were thrown together at the last minute when the U18s had a doping scandal. He had three helpers in five games. At 18, he’s nowhere near a finished product but he has a lot of potential.
“We don’t know each other yet,” he said earlier in the tournament. “That game against the United States we didn’t know each other. The game wasn’t ours.”
He plays for Acadie-Bathurst Titan in the QMJHL. He had 25 goals and 58 points in 68 games. In the playoffs his production dropped off to just 1 point in five games. If somebody is going to point to a reason why he’s a second or third round pick, it’s likely his lack of consistency.
“The Canadian Hockey League is faster,” Kuznetsov said comparing the “Q” to the U18s. “In Russia you have more time you can move more. I do like to play physical.”
He’s not related to the Capitals’ Kuznetsov. In 2015 he was the 1st overall pick in the CHL import draft. He’s fast, strong, he blocks shots and looks to create offense when he’s on defense. He has a pro shot but he’s not always completely visible throughout an entire game.
“I like a fast game where I can shoot a lot,” he revealed.
He’s the kind of player who could open some eyes at the combine.
“I will be going to the gym and be ready for the combine,” he answered.
This draft can be an interesting one where he’s concerned. One things for sure, wherever he goes that team is banking on his potential and they’ll be hoping they hit a home run where they grab him.
“I’m excited about the draft.”
I’ll be watching to see where he’s picked.