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Evgeny Kuznetsov Waived by Washington Capitals

Evgeny Kuznetsov trade

The Washington Capitals have waived Russian centre Evgeny Kuznetsov on Saturday afternoon, Elliotte Friedman and others reported. Kuznetsov will be assigned to the Hershey Bears if he is not claimed by another team. General Manager Brian MacLellan said this is the first step to give Kuznetsov the change he’s been seeking.

Capitals Waive Evgeny Kuznetsov

Kuznetsov, 31, has six goals and 11 assists for 17 points this season. He has not played since January 27 because he was receiving treatment through the NHL/NHLPA Players’ Assistance Program. The program had cleared him to return to practice with the team on Saturday morning, Bailey Johnson of the Washington Post reported. He remains in the program’s follow-up care.

Brian MacLellan spoke with media half an hour after the news broke. “He’s been looking for a change in environment,” MacLellan said of Kuznetsov. MacLellan spoke with Kuznetsov and Kuznetsov’s agent regarding the move. “This is a means to accomplish what they wanted,” he said. Kuznetsov could now be claimed by any team to continue his career. MacLellan said he was unsure if any team would do so.

Kuznetsov has spent his entire career with Washington so far. He was originally drafted by the Capitals in 2010 as the 26th overall pick. He played his first NHL games in March of the 2013-2014 season. In nearly 10 years since, Kuznetsov has played 723 games and recorded 568 points (171 goals and 397 assists). His best season was the 2017-18 season, when he contributed 83 points in 79 regular season games. The Capitals went on to win the Stanley Cup, with Kuznetsov scoring 32 points in 24 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff games.

What this means for Washington

Now that he has been waived, Evgeny Kuznetsov is no longer on Washington’s active roster, but is still on the Capitals contract books for now. He has a cap hit of $7.8 million USD and his current contract lasts until the end of the 2024-25 season. MacLellan said he would be willing to retain salary in a trade to help facilitate another team’s acquisition of Kuznetsov.

This comes less than a week before the 2024 NHL trade deadline on March 8th. Kuznetsov is not the only player the Capitals are prepared to take trade offers for. Forwards Nic Dowd, Anthony Mantha, and Max Pacioretty have been mentioned as potential targets, as well as defenceman Joel Edmundson. Washington will take a similar approach to trades as it did last season, MacLellan said during his press conference. Whether Kuznetsov’s contract has been taken on by another team would also have an impact on the amount of salary cap space available to the Capitals to make deals.

Main photo: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports




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