Despite numerous indications in recent weeks that Evgeny Kuznetsov may finally join the Capitals this spring, General Manager George McPhee isn’t making that assumption.
McPhee said Thursday it is “not my expectation” to have Kuznetsov, the 2010 first-round draft pick, in the lineup before the end of the year.
“We’re proceeding as if he’s not going to be here,” McPhee said. “And until he’s no longer playing in the KHL there’s probably not a lot that I can comment on there. He’s under contract and playing over there.”
Kuznetsov, 21, is playing out the final year of his current contract in the KHL with Traktor Chelyabinsk. Until Traktor’s season ends, a date that can stretch into late March or even April should they perform well in the KHL playoffs, the Capitals aren’t able to sign their highly touted prospect.
Whenever he does arrive, Kuznetsov’s first NHL contract would be a two-year entry level contract with a maximum annual salary of $900,000 before signing and performance bonuses according to stipulations in the collective bargaining agreement.
But before anyone starts penciling him in the lineup, there still seems to be uncertainty as to whether Kuznetsov will indeed arrive in Washington in a few weeks.
“It’s a different kind of game and I really can’t comment until it’s over,” McPhee said.