Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov is already having a blast after touching down in Vegas on Thursday for the 2022 NHL All-Star Weekend. And among his fellow All-Stars, he already has a few fans, too, including Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov and Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews.
Kuznetsov told reporters at the All-Star Media Day on Friday that Kaprizov named his 11-year cat Kuzy after No. 92 following the Capitals center’s play at the 2011 World Junior Championships.
“We play for national team together. He actually told me that he’s got a cat and he name him Kuzy like long time ago just cause it’s me,” Kuznetsov said, laughing, “The older I get the more things I learn.”
The Wild star confirmed Kuznetsov’s claim and has followed Kuznetsov’s career and has looked up to him over time. Kaprizov also passed Kuznetsov as the highest U20 scorer in KHL history during his time overseas and shared the ice with him while suiting up for Team Russia at the 2019 IIHF World Championships.
“I really loved the way Kuzy played, so we were trying to think of a name for the cat and I just said, ‘Let’s go with Kuzy,'” Kaprizov said at media day, per the Star Tribune’s Sarah McLellan.
In addition to Kaprizov, Matthews also had kind words to say about Kuznetsov.
“I remember watching him at World Juniors… he was a lot of fun to watch then,” Matthews said. “And ever since he’s been in the NHL he’s just a sneaky guy that does a lot of really impressive stuff out there. He’s fun to watch, and I heard he’s a pretty big stick guy.”
Kuznetsov is having an outstanding bounce-back season following a lackluster 2020-21 that led to trade speculation and numerous critiques. However, the Russian hit the ground running at training camp and has since silenced critics with a team-leading 31 assists and 45 points through 44 games this season.
His impressive play earned him an All-Star nod after New York Rangers defenseman Adam Fox suffered an injury. Kuznetsov will take part in the fastest skater competition at the skills competition Friday. He will then lace ’em up for the Metropolitan Division for the 3-on-3 tournament on Saturday.
Kuznetsov is excited to be part of the festivities and said that he’s excited to get to interact with other players while also getting recognized for his strong play.
“Yeah, of course, you know, sometimes players like they don’t want to go there, right? But in the back of their heart they kinda believe they’re ready. If they having a good season, they want to get the credit for that right? I’m happy that I’m going,” Kuznetsov said.