Finally. The sigh of relief has echoed throughout Washington Capitals fan base after Evgeny Kuznetsov was released by his hometown team, Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL, prior to the contract’s expiration date on April 30th. The Capitals drafted the rights to Kuznetsov with 26th pick in the 2010 NHL draft, and have waited patiently for “the Russian Machine” to make his mark in the NHL. It appears Kuznetsov will possibly sign a 2-year 900,000 contract, the 21-year old entry-level deal, today, and Washington will have enough salary cap space to accommodate the addition. If Kuznetsov were to play 10 games this season, one of those two-years would be wiped away from the contract.
Capitals management has declined to comment regarding the on-going meetings between the two parties. When Kuzenetsov joins the team, its expected that he will be a member of the team’s top six. Head coach Adam Oates expects to slot him in at either left wing or center, but most likely Kuzentsov will replace Mikhail Grabovski as the second line center.
In the KHL, Kuznetsov was a two-time KHL all-star, but has scored just 8 goals and 21 points in 31 games. Of late, the 21-year old has been plagued by a series of left knee and shoulder injuries that has limited his effectiveness.