NHL Rumors: The Washington Capitals and Evgeny Kuznetsov

Sportsnet: Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek on the 32 Thoughts: The Podcast – Tin Foil Hats, on the Washington Capitals, Evgeny Kuznetsov situation.

** NHLRumors.com transcription

Friedman: “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 a lot more sense.

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For the last couple of years we’ve kind of heard Kuznetsov’s name out there. We’ve talked about before how the relationship between him and the team has been strained. I think they’ve been disappointed with him.

Ovechkin was the Conn Smyth winner in 2018 but Kuznetsov was a major reason they won the Stanley Cup. He gave them an element in those years playoffs 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. 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 hasn’t really been the same player since. I think that they have felt he has not had the same attitude.

Kuznetsov, he’s always been a really honest, free thinker. I enjoy talking to him. He’s very blunt. But I think that they feel that he’s not the same committed player, and he feels, obviously, not been supported by the organization.

Now, it’s like dating Jeff, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle but I think this brings to light what a lot of us have suspected, and I think that for a couple years now the Capitals and Kuznetsov have been headed towards potentially a divorce.

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It’s just that, like I said, if he was playing like the way he was in 2018, they’re not looking to trade him and also, somebody’s happy to take him. He just hasn’t been at that level, which makes it harder on the team and harder to make a deal in a tight cap world.

But it says to me, this is coming at some point. Can’t say exactly when, but it’s coming.”