The Washington Capitals’ offseason plan went haywire when the team re-signed Evgeny Kuznetsov to an expensive eight-year, $62.4 million contract. The deal made Kuznetsov the eighth-highest paid center in the NHL and the highest-paid pivot on the Capitals. It forced the team to trade its third-leading goalscorer Marcus Johansson, in a salary-dump deal to the New Jersey Devils.
I think Washington tried to get Evgeny Kuznetsov in that $6-million range, but realized that was not going to happen. The current CBA has that opening from July 1-5 where restricted free agents are “unprotected,” for lack of a better term, and they rightfully worried what could occur. For all the issues the KHL has, it was going to find cash for him. Russia knows this is an enormous opportunity to finally win another Olympic gold, and it went hard after players to stay home.
We’re not just talking about stars like Kuznetsov, but up-and comers like Columbus prospect Vladislav Gavrikov and solid pros like Sergey Kalinin, who did not play an NHL game after being traded from New Jersey to Toronto. It is impossible to prove what Kuznetsov was being offered, but the rumours were $10M for one season and $20M for two.
The team that was courting Kuznetsov appears to have been SKA St. Petersburg. SKA has deep pockets and is funded by Gazprom, which is owned by the Russian government. A two-year contract with a KHL team would have made Kuznetsov an unrestricted free agent if he chose to return to the NHL.
The Capitals however made their top offer and kept their talented centerman in DC.
“Having given me that type of contract extension, Washington made me understand that they really wanted to keep me on the team, and that they’re betting on me as a leader on the team in the near future,” Kuznetsov said. “I actually did have several options for my future as a hockey player, and I considered them all, including the notion of returning to the KHL. Clearly the chance to play in the Olympics is a significant factor for all Russian players, and I’m no exception. But it so happened that Washington values me highly and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, as banal as that sounds.
Headline Photo: Rob Carr
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.