The situation involving Evgeny Kuznetsov continues to evolve in ways that are equal parts exciting and infuriating.
One can look at comments and recent developments and become convinced that Kuznetsov is on his way to D.C. sometime next year.
Or it is very easy to surmise that he will never play in the NHL.
A case in point occurred just a a few days ago. Several outlets reported that Kuznetsov would actually stay in the KHL—and never come to play for the Caps—if the right contract was offered to him.
"If I am offered a contract here for five to seven years, then I would seriously think about it," Kuznetsov said in an interview with Sovietsky Sport (via SI.com). "A long-term contract guarantees stability, and I want to feel confident about the future."
But in the same interview, Kuznetsov also said that he was serious about leaving the KHL and playing for the Caps after this season.
And now, in very breaking news, Russian Machine Never Breaks is reporting that Kuznetsov has injured his shoulder, yet again, in just the second game of the KHL season.
Feel like screaming yet? Me too.
All this drama and the 26th overall pick of the 2010 NHL draft has still not set foot on the ice in North America. There is a growing concern he might never actually do so, and his recent comments have done nothing to quell that unease.
Those who have been following the Kuznetsov saga since he was drafted in 2010 are familiar with the chronology and the frustration.
In the early part of 2012, Kuznetsov announced he would be staying in Russia for two more seasons. This meant his arrival in D.C. would not happen until 2014, and many Caps fans, understandably, got nervous they might not ever see the talented Russian center.
Earlier this year, though, the hope of Caps fans was buoyed when Kuznetsov stated that he would come and play for the Caps after the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
Before any of us could really feel too good about things, though, the saga took a turn for the worse again.
As reported by NBC Sports Pro Hockey Talk, general manager George McPhee indicated that he does not expect Kuznetsov to come to the Caps until late this season or, quite possibly, not until the 2014-15 season.
While there is a chance we see Kuznetsov after the Olympics, if he is really getting millions of dollars to play at home—tax free, no less—we might not ever see the Capitals' projected center of the future.
McPhee told Russianmachineneverbreaks.com that he believes the contract Kuznetsov was given was worth $10 million, with much of that being paid to him under the table.
So what's to say the KHL won't offer Kuznetsov something even more lucrative and equally tax-free when this current deal expires? What is to say the league won't offer him that five- to seven-year deal laden with incentives, which would make it quite foolish for him to come to North America?
Kuznetsov has all the potential and talent to be the Caps' second-line center. His stats last season for Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL demonstrate this. He had 19 goals and 25 assists in 51 games during the regular season.
In 25 playoff games, Kuznetsov had five goals and six assists, including one in the KHL Championship where Traktor fell in six games to Dynamo Moscow.
If he showed up on the Caps' doorstep when training camp opened, he would likely immediately be the third-line center.
Kuznetsov is very fast, very skilled and plays with a high level of energy and enthusiasm. He has emerged as one of the best offensive threats in the KHL.
The injuries are a concern, and he needs to work on his two-way game some. But there is no denying what an asset Kuznetsov would be—if he actually suits up for the Caps, of course. He would immediately add depth and explosiveness to a team that will probably need it.
It is no surprise he is the No. 1-ranked prospect in the organization, according to Russian Machine Never Breaks.
As it stands right now, though, whether or not Kuznetsov ever plays for the Caps remains a complete and utter mystery.