In his ongoing series throughout the summer, Adam Proteau of The Hockey News touched on Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov and explained that he is on the hottest seat for the Capitals entering into the upcoming season. Although Washington and Kuznetsov seem intent on starting the 2023-24 season together, the Russian forward has not officially rescinded his trade request from last summer.
Following up on one of the most disappointing seasons of his career, Kuznetsov has a lot to prove this year. Last season, playing in 81 games, Kuznetsov scored 12 goals and 43 assists with a -26 rating, not quite living up to his $7.8MM salary. If the Capitals hope to move Kuznetsov for something substantive, or even hope to make the playoffs in a loaded Metropolitan division, they will need Kuznetsov to find his old form in the top six.
Washington might be best served in transferring Kuznetsov to the wing and allowing Nicklas Backstrom and Dylan Strome to take the top two center positions on the roster. Both Backstrom and Strome play significantly better defensively, and Kuznetsov would likely fit in nicely on the second-line left-wing role. Nevertheless, new head coach Spencer Carbery and the entire organization will have to do much better in getting the maximum potential out of Kuznetsov next year.
- In an interview with Iain MacIntyre of Sportsnet, head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, Rick Tocchet, touched on several topics, including the pending restricted free agency of Elias Pettersson, and the ceiling of the Canucks headed into next season. Tocchet notes that if Vancouver can’t make the playoffs next year, the organization will need to “check most of the boxes” to entice him to stay, such as improvements from the coaching & development staff, as well as team cohesion throughout the season. Tocchet also said that the team is “capable of success”, but would not elaborate entirely on his use of the word ’success’.
- General Manager of the Arizona Coyotes, Bill Armstrong, announced a multi-year contract extension with Development Skills Coach, Kyle Bochek. It is unclear how long the contract will be for, but Bochek will be entering his third season in the Coyotes organization, having worked with both NHL and AHL talent. Arizona must have some trust in Bochek, as the team has graduated players such as Matias Maccelli and Dylan Guenther under his watch.