Capitals fans who have waited nearly four years for Evgeny Kuznetsov will need to wait at least another four weeks and possibly longer.
Capitals general manager George McPhee said Thursday it is “not my expectation” that Kuznetsov, 21, will be wearing a Capitals jersey before the end of the season.
“We’re proceeding as if he’s not going to be here,” McPhee said. “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.
Taken by the Caps with the 26th pick overall of the 2010 NHL draft, Kuznetsov is eligible to sign a two-year contract with a $900,000 cap hit.
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His KHL team, Traktor Chelyabinsk, holds the eighth and final payoff spot. If Traktor makes the post-season, the earliest Kuznetsov would finish his season is March 14, which means he could play in no more than the final 12 games of the Caps’ regular season.
Asked if he could work out a deal to have Kuznetsov come to the Capitals immediately after he finishes his commitment to the KHL, McPhee said, “It’s a different kind of game and I can’t comment on anything until it’s over.”
In 27 games for Traktor, Kuznetsov has seven goals and 10 assists and has a minus-9 rating.