Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan seemed to indicate after the NHL Draft that the team had a couple of irons in the fire. This may be one of them.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported shortly before free agency opened on Saturday morning that the Nashville Predators had conversations with the Capitals about acquiring Russian centerman Evgeny Kuznetsov. Barry Trotz, Nashville’s new general manager, coached Kuznetsov to a 2018 Stanley Cup championship.
Those discussions, though, have “quieted down.”
Lots of talk around Nashville's interest in a centre. Believe there were conversations around Washington's Evgeny Kuznetsov — Barry Trotz sure knows him well — but those appear to have quieted down.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 1, 2023
The Predators need center help after recently jettisoning Ryan Johansen to the Colorado Avalanche. Johansen had two seasons remaining on an eight-year, $64 million deal.
Friedman’s report comes months after Match TV said Kuznetsov requested a trade from general manager Brian MacLellan in consecutive seasons.
Down the stretch of the 2022-23 campaign, Kuznetsov, under Peter Laviolette’s leadership, seemed disengaged as the Capitals missed the postseason for the first time in nine years. Kuznetsov, who spent most of the season as the team’s second-line center, had a team worst plus-minus of minus-26 and put up his fewest points in a full 82-game season in eight years.
“(I’m) probably disappointed in [his year],” MacLellan said. “I think it wasn’t as good as last year. I liked his season last year. He played well. For whatever reason he never quite found his game. There were stretches where I thought he played well but overall I think he underperformed the season he had last year.”
Kuznetsov has two seasons remaining on an eight-year, $62.4 million contract where he has a cap hit of $7.8M. He has a limited no-trade clause where he can axe deals to 10 teams.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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