Making the case to keep Evgeny Kuznetsov

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

The Washington Capitals are at a crossroads with center Evgeny Kuznetsov. We all saw the Russian report that he wanted out. But what complicates the situation is the team is much different now than it was when the season ended in mid April.

Now that Peter Laviolette is out and Spencer Carbery is in, perhaps the center wants to reconsider?

The Caps did get one team to reach out to them when they considered shopping him around. That team was the Nashville Predators. That report came from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.

Friedman said, “Believe there were conversations around Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov – Barry Trotz sure knows him well – but those appear to have quieted down.”

Of course if there was any coach in the past that knew how to tap into Kuznetsov’s potential it is Trotz. Kuznetsov thrived in the Barry Trotz era when he coached the Caps and even led the Caps with 31 points in the spring of 2018 when they won the Stanley Cup.

Kuznetsov is coming off a bad season where he had just 55 points in 81 games, a career low shooting percentage, points per game rate plus a plus minus rating of minus 26. Yeah that’s bad.

Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said he was disappointed in Kuznetsov’s performance during the exit interviews:

"“For whatever reason, he never quite found his game… I think he underperformed the season he had last year.”"

It remains to be seen what the Caps are going to do with their longtime Russian center. There are at least a few options and based on what we learned, the Predators probably aren’t the only team that’s interested in acquiring Kuznetsov’s services.

light. Must Read. Capitals sign Alex Limoges

Dealing Kuznetsov, as I’ve written hundreds of times on this site, is easier said than done. How exactly do you replace a good Evgeny Kuznetsov?