Last March, a Russian report dropped from outlet Match TV saying that Evgeny Kuznetsov had requested a trade from the Washington Capitals for consecutive seasons. After six months with little new information, we have finally received some clarity from the man himself.
Before returning to DC for Training Camp, Kuznetsov sat down with former Capitals forward and team Russian amateur scout (per Elite Prospects) Andrei Nikolishin and the rest of the Slippery Ice crew. In the Russian-language interview (and the transcription by sports.ru,) he reveals that he never directly requested a trade but did have a lengthy, honest chat with general manager Brian MacLellan.
“There is no such thing that I would come straight out and say, ‘That’s it, trade me.’ There is no such thing,” Kuznetsov said as translated via Google Translate. “This all goes over time, like a snowball, accumulating back and forth. Rumors don’t just come out of nowhere. This has been going on for two years now.
“I sat with the general manager and talked, as is supposed to happen after the season. We talked for an hour, [saying], ‘Let’s try to change the situation for the better, so that you feel better and I feel better. So, that there is no feeling that I am the odd one out on the team.’ Like, ‘We would have won if you had played better.’ So, that doesn’t happen.”
In the past, Kuznetsov remained vague when asked to comment on the rumors by DC media, instead opting to blame the media for wanting likes on social media.
MacLellan and the Caps did indeed try and move Kuznetsov this past offseason as reported via multiple trusted sources around the league. Reportedly, a move to the Nashville Predators at the most recent NHL Draft was close.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman specifically added last March that the Caps and Kuznetsov had a “strained” relationship. “For a couple years now the Capitals and Kuznetsov have been headed towards potentially a divorce,” Friedman said. “It says to me this is coming at some point. Can’t say exactly when, but it’s coming.”
Earlier in his interview, Kuznetsov detailed the process of his good friend Dmitry Orlov being dealt at last year’s trade deadline to Boston. Apparently, Orlov really did not want to go.
“[He] was very upset,” Kuznetsov said. “We saw him later after the game. He really wanted to stay. It feels like in this organization those who want to be there are kicked out and those who don’t want to be there are left behind.”
Now, with former head coach Peter Laviolette gone and a new season just weeks away, the Caps will turn to new bench boss Spencer Carbery to try and push the right buttons for Kuznetsov. The two have already started building their relationship and it appears to be very positive to start.
“He’s a great person and I feel like the way he sees hockey — it’s a perfect match for me and a perfect match for a lot of guys inside the team,” Kuznetsov said in his season-opening media availability. “So, there is a lot of positivity in my head when I talk to him. The most important, he was very honest with me and I was very honest with him too.”
MacLellan has also seemingly put the past behind him. “We need [Kuznetsov],” he said. “He’s a good player and we need him to be competitive and our team to be competitive and him to be playing at his top level.”
Kuznetsov has two years remaining on his contract that sees him paid $7.8 million annually against the cap. He is coming off his least productive season in the NHL (55 points) since he was just a sophomore in the league almost a decade ago.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
RMNB 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.