Hurricanes trade for Evgeny Kuznetsov

Carolina sent a third-round pick to Washington, which also retained 50% of his salary

The Hurricanes acquired Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov in exchange for a third-round pick in 2025. (Karl B. DeBlaker / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — The Hurricanes continued to reimagine their forward group ahead of the trade deadline, dealing a 2025 third-round pick to Washington in exchange for struggling center Evgeny Kuznetsov. The Capitals retained half of Kuznetsov’s $7.8 million cap hit on a contract that runs through the 2024-25 season.

Kuznetsov has 568 points in 723 career regular season games, all with Washington, but has fallen on hard times this season, posting just 17 points in 43 games and going through waivers before being assigned to AHL Hershey this week.

At his peak, Kuznetsov was one of hockey’s best centers, a combination of skill and strength with four 50-assist and four 20-goal seasons during his 11-year career.

An elite passer, Kuznetsov is also a proven playoff performer, scoring 29 goals with 67 points in 87 career postseason games. That included a team-leading 20 assists and 32 points in the Capitals’ run to the 2018 Stanley Cup. While Alex Ovechkin unsurprisingly won the Conn Smythe Trophy that year, many believe it was Kuznetsov who was most deserving of being named playoff MVP.

“Evgeny is a high-level playmaker who will add to our offensive firepower,” Hurricanes president and general manager Don Waddell said in a press release. “He brings even more playoff experience to our lineup, and we’re excited to give him a fresh start in Carolina.”

Kuznetsov comes to Carolina a day after the Hurricanes added star winger Jake Guentzel from the Penguins, the Capitals’ arch-nemesis, in a six-player trade.

The addition of Kuznetsov gives the Hurricanes a player who can possibly be their second-line center, a role that has fallen to Jack Drury after Jesperi Kotkaniemi struggled to produce following a hot start to his season.

Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour and Kuznetsov complimented each other when both (along with Guentzel, Sebastian Aho and Frederik Andersen) were part of the Metropolitan Division All-Star team in 2022.

“He’s actually the guy that got us going,” Kuznetsov said of Brind’Amour helping motivate the Metro team to win the divisional competition. “I like that type of style.”

Brind’Amour reciprocated the praise.

“The guy that kinda shocked me the most was Kuznetsov,” Brind’Amour said. “He’s a happy-go-lucky guy. But he said he was going to go out and score on the first shift, and he did. And then the next game, he did. I was like, ‘This is pretty impressive to call your own shot.’ But he worked hard. He was chirping on the guys. They wanted to win.”

Kuznetsov has, however, run into some off-ice problems during his NHL career, most notably serving a three-game suspension in 2019 for violating the NHL’s anti-drug policy. The league determined Kuznetsov had misled NHL officials when questioned about a video that showed the Chelyabinsk, Russia, native with what appeared to be cocaine. Kuznetsov denied using cocaine but later tested positive for the illegal substance at the World Championships later that year. He was suspended from international play for four years following the failed test.

Kuznetsov will join a Hurricanes locker room with several fellow Russians. That includes defenseman Dmitry Orlov, who signed with Carolina in the offseason after playing a decade in Washington, including nine years with Kuznetsov.