Evgeny Kuznetsov’s incredible post-season could pay off in the form of a short-term, bridge contract with the Washington Capitals. According to a report, the Capitals and Kuznetsov are closing in on a two- or three-year deal that could pay close to $3 million.
When the names of restricted free agents filing for arbitration was released Sunday, there were two Washington Capitals listed: Marcus Johansson and Braden Holtby. Missing from the list, however, was Evgeny Kuznetsov, as it appears the Capitals and the 23-year-old center are close to a deal.
According to a report from The Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt, Kuznetsov’s agent, Maxim Molliver, says the Capitals are working towards a two- or three-year contract extension that would keep Kuznetsov in Washington. A short-term deal of that length means Kuznetsov would remain an RFA upon completion of the contract.
“I think we have a good dialogue,” Molliver told Prewitt. “We’re motivated to get it done. We’re having good conversations with the Caps.”
Reportedly, the deal could be worth somewhere in the $3 million range per season.
Washington’s first-round pick in 2010, 26th overall, Kuznetsov made his NHL debut in 2013-14, but became a full-time NHL pivot this past season. Though he didn’t log big minutes, averaging between 13:19 in ice time per game, Kuznetsov was still able to rack up 11 goals and 37 points in his first full NHL campaign. What could be most telling about the play of the shifty center, though, is how well he played in the post-season.
In 14 playoff games, Kuznetsov saw his average ice time leap by more than three minutes. Over the course of Washington’s post-season run, he scored five goals and seven points, including the game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Capitals’ first-round tilt with the New York Islanders. By the final game of Washington’s post-season, a Game 7 defeat at the hands of the New York Rangers, Kuznetsov logged nearly 21 minutes of ice time and registered six shots on goal.
Before coming to the NHL for the 2013-14 campaign, Kuznetsov had been competing against men in the KHL for upwards of four full seasons with Traktor Chelyabinsk. Excluding his rookie season, Kuznetsov was a KHL standout, scoring 63 goals and 138 points in 175 games.
According to Prewitt, a long-term deal for Kuznetsov had been discussed, but Molliver said the two sides simply wanted to get a deal done.
“We just need to come to an agreement,” Molliver told Prewitt. “Hopefully we’ll get it done shortly.”