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Evgeny Kuznetsov and Capitals Headed for Nasty Divorce

Evgeny Kuznetsov still wants the Washington Capitals to trade him. Are they finally ready to pull the trigger?

According to Russian outlet Match TV, Washington Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov wants out. Reports that he requested a trade a couple of seasons ago have resurfaced via an article from Match TV who writes (as translated by Google Translate):

As it became known to Match TV, Washington forward Evgeny Kuznetsov wants to leave the club of his own free will. On Friday, the North American media reported that Washington could trade Kuznetsov in the offseason. However, as it became known to Match TV, Kuznetsov himself has been asking the Capitals for an exchange for the second year through his agent. Previously, the capital club was not ready for this.

Kuznetsov was in the news recently after taking a huge hit from Matt Dumba. He didn’t see it coming. Unlike that hit, the Capitals have apparently known about Kuznetsov’s unhappiness for some time but simply weren’t willing or ready to accommodate his trade request. Things may have changed in that regard as the organization is said to be quite unhappy with the way he’s played of late.

The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir published the following in a recent mailbag article:

The Caps’ decision-makers are disappointed in Kuznetsov’s season. They desperately needed him to step forward and he did not. He turns 31 in May, counts $7.8 million against the salary cap for two seasons after this one, scored no goals in October and one in January, and struggled defensively all year… I don’t know where things go from here. But something’s got to give.

Evgeny Kuznetsov Washington Capitals NHL
Evgeny Kuznetsov Washington Capitals NHL

If the player and the team are both looking to move in a different direction, there should be quite a bit of chatter about Kuznetsov over the summer. While $7.5 million on his contract isn’t chump change, that he’s only got two seasons remaining is helpful. He’s got 53 points in 73 games for the club this season and is coming off of a 78-point 2021-22 campaign. There will be teams that show interest.

The question will be whether the Caps can replace him since the mandate is to ensure they are a competitive team while Alex Ovechkin continues to try and break Wayne Gretzky’s goal-scoring record. Is there a team out there looking to move a center of their own and let the two players try their luck in different environments? Or, can the Capitals dump Kuznetsov and chase a different center in free agency?

Kuznetsov does hold a modified no-trade clause, allowing him to submit a 10-team no-trade list.

Next: Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 5-3 Loss to Hurricanes

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