The talk of the town right now is what the Washington Capitals are going to do with Evgeny Kuznetsov. They might possibly trade him, leave him exposed in the upcoming Seattle expansion draft, or the team might just give him one more chance. Whatever happens, it’s an intriguing storyline.
Kuznetsov was one of the reasons the Capitals won the Stanley Cup in 2018. If Alex Ovechkin wasn’t going to win the Conn Smythe Trophy for MVP of the playoffs, it would’ve easily went to Kuznetsov and for good reason. He led the Caps with 32 points including a team leading 20 assists to go along with 12 goals. He also had perhaps the biggest goal in franchise history. Ah, the sweet taste of victory of beating Pittsburgh.
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Since then, however, it’s been frustrating watching Kuznetsov. On the ice he was inconsistent. Off the ice he was getting into trouble. He can’t compete in the Olympics for Team Russia after he failed a drug test.
Just this past season alone, Kuznetsov got COVID-19 twice. He was the first and only player to test positive for the virus twice. While that was also unfortunate, it could’ve possibly been avoided if he followed the league and team’s health and safety protocols. You may remember the team getting a fine with the Russian four hanging out in a hotel room.
With a cap hit of $7.8 million, it seems like the obvious choice would be to ship out Kuznetsov. Doing so would get rid of the cap hit and give the Caps more space to re-sign guys like Ovechkin and Ilya Samsonov. But then things get real complicated.
First of all, if you’re going to trade a guy like Kuznetsov, someone who when he’s on his game is one of the legitimate playmakers in the league, you better get a good return. I’m not just talking about a quality player on that other team but a first round draft pick as well.
There’s also a lack of options. When the Caps extended Kuznetsov’s contract four years ago there was a list of 15 teams he didn’t want to get traded to. That limits the chances of getting assets from other teams if you decide to move on from Kuzy.
Another reason a trade might not work is his on ice woes have lowered his value. Why would a team want to take on someone with a massive cap hit if he isn’t producing as much as he’s worth?
Ultimately, I’m not the one who makes these decisions and I’m glad I don’t have to. Instead I’m like you, waiting to see on what the Caps do this offseason to retool their roster. Will Kuznetsov be back with the team after all these rumors that have swirled or will the Caps move on? We could find out very soon.