Prospect of Interest: The 411 on Vladimir Kuznetsov

General managers from around the NHL comment on the importance of the 2016 NHL Draft.

He was the first overall selection in the 2015 CHL Import Draft, a skilled forward who—in case you were wondering—bears no relation to Washington Capitals superstar Evgeny Kuznetsov.

This Kuznetsov does however have a similar profile to Washington’s newest dominant Russian forward. He’s big and strong, and is just starting to show what he’s capable of.

Here’s a detailed look at 2016 NHL Draft prospect Vladimir Kuznetsov.

Age on June 24: 18
Current Team: Acadie-Bathurst Titans
Position: Left Wing/Right Wing
Shoots: Left
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 214 pounds
From: Yekaterinburg, Russia
NHL Central Scouting Rank (North America): 55th

Jeff Marek’s Take: There is no denying he has skill, many scouts however have reservations about his speed and desire.

Big body, big game…
The first thing that stands out about Kuznetsov is his imposing figure. At 6-foot-2 and 214 pounds, he’s obviously more developed than most players his age.

It’s one thing to have size; it’s another to know how to use it.

“Vladimir Kuznetsov plays the game like a budding power forward,” says Ben Kerr of “With the puck on his stick, he’s often looking to drive to the front of the net. He’s also more than willing to cause havoc near the crease when he doesn’t have the puck, looking for a pass out front, for a rebound or for the opportunity to deflect things home.”

Considering Kuznetsov scored 25 goals and 33 assists in 68 games in his first season with Acadie-Bathurst, it’s obvious he was successful at implementing his style.

A big adjustment…
Kuznetsov’s production was impressive considering the adjustment he had to make in going from the Olympic-sized ice in Russia to the NHL-sized rink in Canada.

But the biggest adjustment he had to make was breaching the language barrier.

“It was a hard one especially in the very first days,” Kuznetsov told Dmitri Gochev of “I remember that my billet family and I went to a restaurant. They asked me what I wanted to eat and I could only blink my eyes. I sorted it out somehow, but I had to start studying the language at a good rate. And anyway everyone was laughing when I talked in English.”

International success…
Most of the Russian team that competed at the 2016 Under-18 World Championship was young after a doping scandal saw most its oldest players disqualified. Kuznetsov was one of the only seniors to participate and assumed a leadership role, recording three assists in the tournament.

He was also a part of the 2015 Russian Team that captured a gold medal at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

Don’t read into the rankings…
A lot of people were surprised that Kuznetsov was selected first overall in the import draft after a substandard season in Russia, in the MHL, in which he only managed seven goals and five assists in 43 games.

But as Kuznetsov told Gochev in the interview with, he had a deal worked out with Acadie-Bathurst and that’s why they selected him where they did.

So the fact Kuznetsov is ranked 55th among North American prospects by NHL Central Scouting is more a reflection of where he is at in his development, rather than an indictment of his play as a hyped import player.

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