With Alex Ovechkin free agency talks likely put to rest, the Washington Capitals’ attention shifts toward another member of the team’s current core: Evgeny Kuznetsov.
As the Expansion Draft looms with the Seattle Kraken looking to make a splash, general manager Brian MacLellan has decisions to make, and a lot of it appears to revolve around the Russian center.
“I don't think anyone is off the table,” MacLellan said, adding the only exceptions would be Ovechkin and longtime teammate Nicklas Backstrom.
Kuznetsov’s 2020-21 campaign is one that he’d like to put behind him. Not only was it plagued by bouts of inconsistency but he missed significant time after violating COVID-19 protocols and testing positive twice. He was also scratched due to “disciplinary” reasons toward the end of the year.
“It wasn’t an easy one you know... Everybody and every time you have a season like that, you always want to go back as quick as possible to work and be successful next year, so this is what I’m trying to do right now,” Kuznetsov explained. “Figure out some things and then get back to work and you know, just to be in shape.”
Through 41 games, Kuznetsov put up career-low numbers of nine goals and 29 points, while also going without a point through three playoff games against Boston. His .71 points-per-game pace was the lowest it’s been since 2014-15 (.49).