Kuznetsov Clears Player Assistance Program, Placed on Waivers

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The National Hockey League and its Player Assistance program announced earlier today that Evgeny Kuznetsov of the Washington Capitals was cleared to resume practicing. Kuznetzov entered the program on February 6th where he missed 12 games. It is still unclear why the Capitals forward entered the program. Teams are not told details of a player’s absence for confidentiality rules.

Kuznetsov, 31, has scored six goals and 17 points in 43 games for the Capitals this season. Drafted 26th overall by the Washington Capitals in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Kuznetsov has had his fair share of struggles both on and off the ice. His career high for points came back in the 2017-18 season, he scored 27 goals, 56 assists, and 83 points as the leading scorer of the Capitals team that won the 2018 Stanley Cup. Since that season, he’s found himself fluctuating production-wise and struggling to find his 70-point consistency. He was nearly a point-per-game player in 2021-22, only to fall off again in 2022-23.

Related: Kuznetsov Enters Player Assistance Program

In 2019, Kuznetsov was suspended without pay for three regular-season games by the NHL for “inappropriate conduct.” That came less than a month after he was suspended from playing for Russia for four years because of a positive cocaine test.

Once the daily waiver wire announcements were ready for release at noon EST, it was announced that Washington had placed Kuznetsov on waivers. This was on the same day that Kuznetsov was cleared to resume practicing while entering the follow-up care phase of the program.

The waiver placement likely is to assign Kuznetsov to the Hershey Bears, the Capitals AHL affiliate, for an extended stint that would go past a conditioning loan. It is highly unlikely that anyone would look to claim Kuznetsov as he carries a $7.8 million cap hit through the end of next season. He’s owed $6m in actual salary next year and a $2m signing bonus on July 1st.

If there is a team that picks up the 31-year-old forward, it gives Kuznetzov a fresh start in his career and provide veteran centre depth. A team could use his Stanley Cup experience and with there not being a lot of centres available via trade ahead of Friday’s trade deadline.

Conrad Jack

Conrad Jack is a lifelong hockey fan who is now actively writing for Inside The Rink covering primarily the Winnipeg Jets and the entire NHL second. He also covers the latest NHL News & Rumors, the NHL Entry Draft, and so much more for Inside The Rink.

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