By Ian Oland
Over the weekend, Russian outlet Match TV reported that Evgeny Kuznetsov had asked to be traded out of DC for the last two seasons.
Monday, hockey insider Elliotte Friedman discussed the news with Jeff Marek on Sportsnet’s 32 Thoughts podcast.
Friedman essentially called the report the final piece of a puzzle which would explain why, per Elliotte, insiders “kinda heard Kuznetsov’s name out there” in trade talks.
The interesting thing for me in Washington is Kuznetsov. It’s obvious now the Capitals are reshaping their team.
And I’ll give credit to the blog Russian Machine Never Breaks because they found the article out of Russia that says that Kuznetsov had asked for a trade a couple years ago.
And suddenly a lot of things start to make more sense. For the last couple years we kinda heard Kuznetsov’s name out there. We talked before about how the relationship between him and the team has been strained. I think they’ve been disappointed with him.
Ovechkin was the Conn Smythe winner in 2018 but Kuznetsov was a major reason they won the Stanley Cup. He gave them an element that they always dreamed of when they drafted him — that they would have a killer 1-2 punch (Backstrom, Kuznetsov) and people would not be able to handle it. And that’s exactly what happened that playoff. He got a big contract right after that, He deserved every penny at the time.
And if he had continued to play the way that he played, none of this would be an issue, But he really hasn’t been the same player since. I think they have felt he has not had the same attitude.
Kuznetsov has always been a really honest free thinker. I enjoy talking to him. He’s very blunt.
But I think they feel he’s not the same committed player and he feels obviously he’s not been supported by the organization.
It’s like dating, Jeff. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
I think this brings to light what a lot of us have suspected. For a couple years now the Capitals and Kuznetsov have been headed towards potentially a divorce.
Like I said, if he was playing like he was playing in 2018, they’re not looking to trade him and also someone’s happy to take him. He’s just not been at that level, which makes it harder on the team and harder to make a deal in a tight cap world.
It says to me this is coming at some point. Can’t say exactly when, but it’s coming.
In his first game since the report was made public, Kuznetsov tallied a primary assist on a third-period Tom Wilson goal that helped spur a short-lived Capitals comeback against the Penguins.
Kuznetsov has 53 points (12g, 41a) in 73 games this season.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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