Evgeny Kuznetsov was among the notable players considered a trade candidate entering this off-season. As training camp approaches, however, the 28-year-old center seems destined to remain with the Washington Capitals.
Kuznetsov first surfaced in trade chatter on May 4 when TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported the Capitals had grown weary of his off-ice antics. That included a four-year suspension by the IIHF in 2019 for testing positive for cocaine, testing positive twice for COVID-19 and missing a team function.
LeBrun reported the Capitals were willing to entertain trade offers for Kuznetsov. Daily Faceoff's Frank Seravalli included the troubled center on his list of 20 potential trade candidates. During his season-ending press conference, general manager Brian MacLellan indicated he was open to any trade if it improved his club.
MacLellan, however, walked back that idea following the draft in July. “We've never said we're trading Kuznetsov,” he said, reiterating his comments about his willingness to listen to offers for his players if they made sense.
Conjecture still lingers over Kuznetsov's status. During a Sept. 2 mailbag segment, The Athletic's Tarik El-Bashir was asked whether a trade was still possible. He felt if it was going to happen it would've by now.
El-Bashir didn't rule out the possibility of a club losing out in the Jack Eichel trade sweepstakes shifting their focus toward Kuznetsov. His $7.8-million cap hit through 2024-25, 15-team no-trade list and the need for the Capitals to find a suitable replacement are significant stumbling blocks.
Kuznetsov's erratic off-ice behavior and inconsistent performance over the last two seasons hurt his trade value. If he were playing at his best, however, the Capitals wouldn't have any reason to move him.