Evgeny Kuznetsov was suspended for disciplinary reasons by the Capitals during the 2020-21 regular season, part of some rule-breaking that caused Washington to be fined $100k, and contracted coronavirus twice. Those antics, combined with his struggles to return to his previous form in 2018, resulted in reports in May that the Capitals were looking to deal Kuzy over the offseason.
“I think we’re always open to trading people if it makes sense for what’s going on if it makes our team better,” Capitals GM Brian MacLellan said after the season. “I don’t think anybody’s off the table. We’re not going to trade Ovi or Backy, those types of people, but you have to be open on anything. So we would talk to anybody about any player.”
During an appearance on TSN1260’s Jason Gregor Show, Frank Seravalli of The Daily Faceoff reported that the New York Rangers, who are aggressively remaking their team under new GM Chris Drury, had shown interest in acquiring Kuznetsov as well as fellow star center Jack Eichel.
But Seravalli hedged that a Caps-Rangers deal wasn’t close, surmising that there hasn’t been “a ton” of interest in general on Kuznetsov.
“One of the teams I’ve been able to connect to Kuznetsov was the New York Rangers,” Seravalli said. “The Rangers are fascinating whether it’s Eichel or Kuznetsov. Do they add someone on the backend? When do they buy out Tony DeAngelo? Those are all pretty pertinent questions and I would say that for all the talk about Kuznetsov being out there, I think the four-year term is scaring some teams away. I think it’s been a little more difficult to move than intended and also, just from a pure agenda setting as well, the Caps are focused on getting the Ovechkin deal finished off in short order once this signing moratorium opens.”
The NHL has been under an Expansion Draft trade/waiver freeze since Saturday to allow the Seattle Kraken to begin forming their team. The freeze lifts at 1 PM on Thursday. With the first round of the NHL Draft on Friday night, there could be frenzy of activity once business is allowed to resume.
Part of a possible Kuznetsov deal could depend on what the Rangers do next. Earlier in the day, the New York Post reported that New York was interested in landing defensemen Mark Giordano from the Kraken in exchange for forward Ryan Strome. The Rangers are also believed to be dangling Strome in a deal for Eichel.
“I viewed Giordano as that quintessential foundational piece to start building your franchise and culture,” Seravalli said of Seattle selecting the Norris Trophy winner. “I think the fact that he soon turns 38. He’s got certainly some mileage on him in terms of some recent injuries and nicks. I think that ($6.75 million) cap hit is probably prohibitive in some cases. But there’s a reason why Seattle took him. Obviously, on the one hand, they think he can still play, but then as a flippable asset, I think Tyler Pitlick is a guy that will be flipped on Thursday once the trading freeze breaks at 1 PM. I don’t know about Giordano but I can tell you this about the New York Rangers. They have a lot of balls in the air at the moment.
“They’ve been looking to move Pavel Buchnevich for a couple weeks. I’m told that Ryan Strome is potentially on the move again. At the goaltending position, they’ve been trying to find a landing spot for Alexander Georgiev looking for a first round pick. So Chris Drury has been really active and obviously, the Barclay Goodrow signing that’s likely going to come down on Thursday, six years times $3.65 million, a lot of teams are curious what the New York Rangers up to. Are they gearing up to trade for Jack Eichel?”
The Rangers could possibly go the Kuznetsov route if the Sabres’ pricetag for Eichel is deemed too outrageous.
“I’ve heard that the asking price is so high, that there’s some real [thought] whether the Sabres need to reconsider what they’re looking for,” Seravalli said. “It’s basically all picks and prospects and some teams can play in that sandbox and other teams just don’t have the ability to. Teams that would be interested are more interested in trading roster players than all futures. They’re just not seeing eye-to-eye with a lot of teams at the moment but they’re trying to keep the situation pretty quiet.”
Seravalli’s quotes indicate that the next few days *could* end up being big ones in Capitals’ franchise history, either with Alex Ovechkin re-signing, a possible Kuznetsov trade, or both. Stay close to your phones.
Headline photo: Cara Bahniuk/RMNB
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