Evgeny Kuznetsov is a Hurricane: What His Addition Means for the Hurricanes

Carolina made an early deal on Friday with another division rival, adding a player looking for a fresh start after a frustrating season in D.C.
New Jersey Devils v Washington Capitals
New Jersey Devils v Washington Capitals / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

After completing a blockbuster on Thursday night following their win over Montreal, General Manager Don Waddell kicked off deadline day with another inter-Metropolitan Division move. Carolina acquired forward Evgeny Kuznetsov from the Washington Capitals for a 3rd-round pick in 2025. The Capitals will also retain half of Kuznetsov's $7.8 million cap hit.

Drafted in the 1st round in 2010 by the Capitals, Kuznetsov, 31, is known more as a high-assist center. His best year came during the Capitals' run to the Stanley Cup in 2017-18. Kuznetsov finished the season with career highs in goals (27), assists (56), and points (83) in 79 games. He added a league-high 32 points in 24 postseason games as the Capitals won the Stanley Cup.

The biggest knocks against Kuznetsov have been consistency and off-ice issues. While he can put up points, it hasn't been coming as easily this season. At his best, he's a 30-to-40-assist, 70-point player. At his worst, he's not engaged on either end and his lack of production shows. This season, he has just 17 points in 43 games with horrendous advanced metrics.

Kuznetsov hasn't played since January 27, entering the Player Assistance Program on February 5. He has since been cleared to return to practice, but he was placed on waivers and assigned to the AHL earlier in the week. His off-ice issues are well documented. He was banned from international competition for four years in 2019 after testing positive for cocaine and was suspended for three games by the NHL shortly after for "inappropriate conduct."

This feels like a low-risk, high-reward move for the Hurricanes. A 3rd-round pick doesn't feel like a lot for a guy with a winning pedigree who can produce a lot when in the right situation. It's no secret that Rod Brind'Amour has set high expectations for this group both on and off the ice. There will be an expectation once Kuznetsov arrives. He also has a history with Dmitry Orlov, whom he won the Stanley Cup with in Washington.

An additional note to make on Kuznetsov is that he has one year left on his current deal. If he pans out and plays well with the Hurricanes, he could be around for a little longer. If it doesn't go well, the team could look to trade him or buy him out in the offseason. He's not going to be a long-term investment, and his cap hit will only be $3.9 million, which is another reason why I think this deal works.

In the end, this adds even more depth at the center position. Along with Sebastian Aho, Jordan Staal, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and Jack Drury, the Canes now run incredibly deep. There are questions about who will be out of the lineup with Kuznetsov's arrival, but far more capable minds will decide that. It's a solid deal for the Hurricanes, as they seem to be going all-in for the Stanley Cup this season.

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