Connect with us

Carolina Hurricanes

Will Evgeny Kuznetsov Revitalize His Career in Carolina?

Kuznetsov struggled towards the end of his tenure in Washington. With a fresh start in Carolina, will we see a bounce back?

With the 2024 NHL Trade Deadline officially over, lots of moves were made that had people talking. One included centerman Evgeny Kuznetsov being shipped to the Carolina Hurricanes by the Washington Capitals in exchange for a 2025 3rd-round pick.

The 31-year-old Russian forward spent 10 seasons in Washington, contributing significantly to their Stanley Cup win in 2018. He recorded 32 points in 24 playoff games that year and was seen by many as being a runner-up for the Conn Smythe award.

He was part of a dominant Capitals core alongside forwards such as Nicklas Backstrom and fellow Russian and franchise goal scorer Alexander Ovechkin. In short, Kuznetsov’s years in Washington were a success before things came crashing down…

Evgeny Kuznetsov Hurricanes

Kuznetsov Began to Fall out of Favor with Caps, Decline Followed

Kuznetsov reportedly requested a trade out of the club as he was looking for a change of scenery. Reports suggested that he was looking for more “offensive freedom” as in the 2022-23 season, his goal production was cut in half as he scored 12 goals and 55 points in 72 games.

Kuznetsov has also faced various issues off the ice. In 2019, he tested positive for illegal substances which resulted in a four-year suspension from the IIHF Hockey Championships. He was also suspended for three regular season games that same year for “inappropriate conduct.”

In 2020, he was caught violating COVID-19 guidelines and he was placed on a restriction list alongside various other teammates.

The 2023-24 Season Hasn’t Been Kind to Kuznetsov

Focusing on the 2023-24 season, it has been nothing short of a disaster for Kuznetsov. In 43 games, the Russian forward has recorded just a measly six goals and 17 points, a huge drop-off from past seasons. He also admitted himself into the NHL Player Assistance program and was later placed on waivers hours after being cleared from the program, in a move that shocked many.

His assignment to the AHL was seen as being a chance for a fresh start, according to Capitals GM Brain MacLellan:

“He’s been looking for a change in environment, and this might set the wheels in motion for that to be accomplished.”

Kuznetsov was waived for AHL assignment on March 2nd, 2024. Six days later, after he reported to Hershey, he was traded to Carolina.

Kuznetsov Ready for a Fresh Start

The Hurricanes are a top contender in the east, and have the intentions of going all in. With the earlier acquisition of winger Jake Guentzel, adding Kuznetsov to that mix will only strengthen the team’s forward group. Kuznetsov’s elite playmaking as a center is always in high demand due to his skills and versatility on the ice. He’s also strong on the penalty kill and possesses a strong skillset in shootouts.

Will Kuznetsov find his spark again while playing for a contending team like Carolina? During his prime, the Capitals were often one of the top teams in the East. He’s won before and is familiar with what it takes to be part of a winning atmosphere. When the 31-year-old was asked about his new opportunity in Carolina, he didn’t hold back about how much this new opportunity meant for his playing career.

Evgeny Kuznetsov is ready to bounce back with the Carolina Hurricanes

Kuznetsov stated that:

“This is my last opportunity. This is my last chance. Everything is in my power right now. I’m pretty sure the guys are going to be supportive and helpful, but I need to perform on the ice.”

The Hurricanes acquired Kuznetsov at 50% retention, reducing his cap hit to $3.9 million from his $7.8 million contract.

Despite off-ice problems and performance decline, Don Waddell and the Hurricanes gambled on the Russian center. He possesses a winning pedigree as he’s been part of a winning atmosphere in Washington for so long. Kuznetsov is under contract for the Hurricanes for the rest of this season and for 2024-2025.

It’ll be fascinating to see if Kuznetsov does indeed get back to the dominant center he once was. His determination could lead to an impressive comeback, shaping a compelling narrative of resilience and success. Only time will tell.

Next: Top 5 Winners of the 2024 NHL Trade Deadline

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

More News

Discover more from NHL Trade Talk

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading