It’s a story that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention because of the Tom Wilson drama, but according to a report by Pierre LeBrun of TSN, the Washington Capitals may have had enough of Evgeny Kuznetsov’s off the ice issues. He, along with good friend Ilya Samsonov were scratched this week from a game after failing to show up to a team event/meeting on time. Earlier this season, he was part of a group of players who got their hand slapped for being out in public without masks and breaking COVID protocols and this isn’t the first time he’s run into problems.
Kuznetsov has found himself on the wrong end of criticism before. He was suspended three years ago for some “questionable conduct” and it sounds like the Capitals are worried he’s not learning his lesson or maturing. LeBrun notes that there is chatter among those involved with the Capitals organization that perhaps it’s time to look at making a change. Noting that the team is tired of having to deal with his issues, paired with some inconsistencies on the ice, the team might want to shed his $7.8 million cap hit for four more seasons.
Moving the No. 1 center for the team would be a big deal. But, perhaps that doesn’t matter any longer. LeBrun says, “What I’m hearing is that, at some level, it’s starting to irritate some members of the Caps organization. Keep an eye on this one.”
He goes on to say that the Capitals might be willing to listen to trade offers for Kuznetsov during the offseason. The player does have a modified no-trade, but if the two sides aren’t happy with one another, it’s reasonable to think a deal can be worked out. It would serve the Capitals well to try and take care of this issue before the NHL Expansion Draft, perhaps working out something with Seattle.
Kuznetsov has 29 points in 41 games this season. He was added to NHL’s COVID absences list today.