The Washington Capitals will see Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson take part in the 2022 NHL All-Star Weekend, and they’ll face some big challenges at the Skills Competition on Friday.
On Thursday, the NHL released the player assignments for the skills competition, which features an array of events including the fastest skater, save streak, fountain face-off, hardest shot, breakaway challenge, NHL 21 in ’22 and accuracy shooting. Both Capitals representatives face big tasks, as Kuznetsov will participate in the fastest skater competition while Wilson will take part in the hardest shot contest.
Kuznetsov faces a rather tough field when it comes to the fastest skater competition. He will go up against three-year reigning champion Connor McDavid, as well as previous champ Dylan Larkin, Jordan Kyrou, Kyle Connor, Adrian Kempe and Chris Kreider.
The last time Kuznetsov was in the All-Star Game, he participated in the breakaway challenge. He donned a cowboy hat and sunglasses, a tribute to his captain and countrymate Alex Ovechkin’s vintage attempt.
Throwback to the last time Kuznetsov was at the All-Star Weekend, when he imitated Ovi in the breakaway challenge with a cowboy hat and a Pepsi from Backstrom. pic.twitter.com/yqoMc59Zce
— Sammi Silber (@sammisilber) January 31, 2022
It’ll be interesting to see No. 92, who is an outstanding puck carrier and smooth-skating, elite playmaker, showcase his speed.
“Every time you get selected there, it’s pretty fantastic,” Kuznetsov said of his All-Star selection. “I believe it’s gonna be good couple days, get to know some people. Always nice to spend a couple days like that.”
Tom Wilson will also get in on the fun in his first All-Star appearance with the hardest shot. The 6-4, 220-pound forward has a solid shot and has showcased that power from the bumper spot in place of T.J. Oshie on the man advantage this season. He will also see heavy competition in Victor Hedman, Timo Meier and Adam Pelech. Hedman currently leads all All-Stars with the hardest shot this season, clocking in at 99.9 MPH (.1 more than Alex Ovechkin).
“I’m really excited. It’s one of the best events every year. I think this year’s going to be great in Vegas,” Wilson said of the festivities. “The league’s putting a lot of work into it, a lot of exciting names, young players going out there. So I think that’s part of the best part of it going out there meeting the guys hanging out with them and just being part of an overall great weekend for hockey and trying to grow the game and no better place to do it than Vegas and I’m just excited to get down here with Kuz and give it our best shot.”
Additionally, Wilson has high expectations to live up to, as that is likely where Ovechkin, who Wilson is replacing after Ovechkin’s positive COVID-19 test, would have been on display. Ovechkin won the hardest shot back in 2018 with a 101.3 slap shot.
The individual winner from each contest will receive $30,000. Kuznetsov and Wilson both took off for Vegas on Thursday.