The elite performance levels of Evgeny Kuznetsov and Vladimir Tarasenko at the world junior championships is a reminder that Russia is still fertile talent source for NHL teams with the patience and gumption to go there.
Last June, the St. Louis Blues were able to draft Tarasenko 16th and the Washington Capitals found Kuznetsov at No. 26 because most NHL teams are hesitant now to draft Russians because of the lack of a transfer agreement between the NHL and the Russian Federation.
“We’ve always felt with (Alex) Ovechkin on our team, the Russians would come,” Capitals general manager George McPhee said. “And if they are sitting there, we will take them.”
Tarasenko and Kuznetsov each had four goals and seven assists to lead Russia to the gold medal at the WJC. Kuznetsov had three assists in the third period of the championship game when Russia erased a 3-0 deficit to win the game against Canada.