Playing with NHL star Pavel Datsyuk in the Russian national team has exposed hockey prodigy Evegeni Kuznetsov to a higher level of hockey than he has experienced before, the 19-year old told RIA Novosti on Friday.
Both forwards are representing Russia at the World hockey championships in Sweden and Finland.
“I have never played with guys like Pasha Dastyuk before,” Kuznetsov said.
“It’s very different, I feel great trust and responsibility and have to do everything I told to. But I feel more and more confident with every training session, and start to understand Pasha better. Not that it is difficult, but just another level, a greater one.”
Kuznetsov has scored one goal and made two assists so far, and Russia coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov has said he expects better.
“The coach is right to tell me that and I have to listen to him,” said the player.
“I have to change my style the way I am told to and I am trying to do my best. It is sometimes hard for me to adjust to different tactics. But when I play the right way I start to score.”
Kuznetsov has been billed as Russia's next great hockey export to the NHL, but in April announced he had turned down a move to the Washington Capitals to remain at his KHL team, Traktor Chelyabinsk, for another two years.
His KHL contract had been due to expire in the summer, but Kuznetsov said he would not take up a non-negotiable $1 million deal in Washington join his countryman Alex Ovechkin. He was the Capitals' No. 1 draft pick in 2010, when he captained the Russian junior team to world championship gold.