Similar to the approach that Pascal Vincent took with Patrik Laine on the Columbus Blue Jackets, the head coach of the Washington Capitals, Spencer Carbery, has decided to scratch Evgeny Kuznetsov for tonight’s game (X Link). After missing 10 days with an illness back in the middle of November, Kuznetsov has only scored one goal upon his return and had previously moved to the fourth line as well as benched during games.
It is not a surprising move by any means, as Kuznetsov has failed to live up to expectations both this season and last, as well as failed to provide equal value to his $7.8MM salary. Simply put, as now the second highest-paid forward on the team with the absence of Nicklas Backstrom, the Capitals need much more production out of Kuznetsov on the offensive side of the puck.
Not only has Kuznetsov’s offensive production cratered to start this season, but he is struggling in all other facets of the game. His Corsi For % has dropped six percentage points lower than his career average, as well as his On Ice Shooting Percentage, meaning his teammates are also struggling to play alongside him. With this move, Washington is hoping a clear enough message has been sent, and that Kuznetsov will have a mental reset and return to his past level of play.
- Having been out of the lineup since November 28th, it appears that the Toronto Maple Leafs will be without defenseman Mark Giordano for quite some time. In a report earlier today, Kevin Weekes of ESPN indicated that Giordano suffered a broken finger in the team’s game against the Florida Panthers, and will be out for four to six weeks. Already having rumored interest in several defensemen on the trade market, Toronto will likely be even more incentivized to make a move soon knowing that Giordano will be out for at least a month.
- It has been a little over a month since the Ottawa Senators announced they would be parting ways with then-General Manager Pierre Dorion, and have yet to replace him. Speaking about that today, Eric Engels of Sportsnet reports that the Senators are still searching for a replacement, and have no timeline on the process. In the team’s preferred scenario, they would look for the position to be a part of a ’two-team operation’, meaning the next General Manager would be working closely with the President of Hockey Operations, Steve Staios.