A busy offseason is at hand for the Washington Capitals. It’s been three years since Alex Ovechkin and some of the Caps went wet and wild at Georgetown Waterfront after delivering the first — and so far only — Stanley Cup title for the nation’s capital. What followed was three straight seasons of playoff exits in the first round. With a chance to shore up the roster, Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan could be scanning a piece of paper with the team’s roster written on it right now, probing the names with his fingers, and stopping at one intriguing asset: Evgeny Kuznetsov. `

The Russian sniper was an integral part of the Caps that won the Stanley Cup in 20198, but he’s been letting his team down on and off the ice ever since. He tested twice for COVID-19 during the 2020-21 NHL season, which he could have avoided if he followed the league’s and his team’s safety protocols. Prior to that, he was suspended for three games in the 2019 season after getting busted for cocaine use. Eating dumplings from the Stanley Cup was one thing, but taking illegal drugs was simply an unacceptable form of post-championship celebration (or any celebration) that Kuznetsov dared make.

A busy offseason is at hand for the Washington Capitals. It’s been three years since Alex Ovechkin and some of the Caps went wet and wild at Georgetown Waterfront after delivering the first — and so far only — Stanley Cup title for the nation’s capital. What followed was three straight seasons of playoff exits in the first round. With a chance to shore up the roster, Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan could be scanning a piece of paper with the team’s roster written on it right now, probing the names with his fingers, and stopping at one intriguing asset: Evgeny Kuznetsov. `

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The Russian sniper was an integral part of the Caps that won the Stanley Cup in 20198, but he’s been letting his team down on and off the ice ever since. He tested twice for COVID-19 during the 2020-21 NHL season, which he could have avoided if he followed the league’s and his team’s safety protocols. Prior to that, he was suspended for three games in the 2019 season after getting busted for cocaine use. Eating dumplings from the Stanley Cup was one thing, but taking illegal drugs was simply an unacceptable form of post-championship celebration (or any celebration) that Kuznetsov dared make.

Evgeny Kuznetsov’s production suffered as a result of all those missed games. In the 2020-21 season, Kuznetsov played just 41 games and posted nine goals and 20 assists. He also went scoreless in three playoff games against the Boston Bruins with a plus/minus of -1 in totality in those contests. 

Kuznetsov had already said he wants to remain a Capital for the next season, but there’s more than a hint of disconnect between him and the team’s management.  His current contract is guaranteed until the end of the 2024-25 NHL season with a cap hit of $7.8 million. A change of scenery and a fresh start somewhere else could benefit Kuznetsov — and the Caps, as that would unload all the baggage between the two sides. 

With all that being said, here are two teams the Capitals can engineer a trade built around Evgeny Kuznetsov.

2. Columbus Blue Jackets

THE TRADE: Alexandre Texier + 2021 first-round pick, 2022 second-round pick

The Blue Jackets have a long list of items they have to accomplish this offseason. Finding a high-ceiling center is among those boxes Columbus needs to check off. Trading away No. 1 center Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Winnipeg Jets started off a lengthy struggle for the Blue Jackets to find stability in the position.