Capitals & Stars Could Be Perfect Trade Partners For Kuznetsov

The Washington Capitals will be looking to make it back into the playoff picture after a disastrous 2022-23 season. They have made a few additions, including forwards Max Pacioretty and Matthew Phillips, and re-signed long-time Capital Tom Wilson. They also attempted to bolster their back end with the acquisition of Joel Edmundson from the Montreal Canadiens to complete a roster that could be a fringe playoff team this season. The Capitals are tight for money and could look to maximize Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s value close to the trade deadline.

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The Dallas Stars had a strong campaign in 2022-23, finishing second in the Central Division with a 47-21-14 record. They made an incredible run to the Western Conference final and conceded to the eventual Stanley Cup champions, the Vegas Golden Knights, in an amazing six-game series. They will be contenders again and are one of the favorites heading into the 2023-24 season. They are only a few pieces away from being able to hoist the Cup, and bringing in Kuznetsov to bolster their top-six forward group could make them unstoppable.

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Both teams would have to make sacrifices to make this work. Kuznetsov has two years left on his contract worth $7.8 million a season, and the Capitals might be willing to retain some of it to make a deal work. Either way, Kuznetsov is on his way out of Washington, regardless of their situation heading into the deadline, and if the Caps agree to retain 50%, they’ll get a much bigger return from the Stars, who are almost guaranteed to be buyers at the deadline. The Capitals and Kuznetsov have surfaced in trade rumors in recent weeks, and if he has a strong campaign, the team would be smart to wait until the deadline to move him and get better value, as he’s coming off of a rough 2022-23 campaign.

The Trade & Everyone Involved

However, this trade doesn’t work without salary retention. The Caps will have to retain $3.9 million, which would bring the Stars’ cap hit after acquiring Kuznetsov down. The Stars would have to pay up a little bit for a player who can put up 60+ points, so the return could be forward Mason Marchment, prospect Antonio Stranges, a 2024 1st-round pick, and a 2025 3rd-round pick. This package gives the Capitals a middle-six forward and a new addition to their prospect pool as well as some much-needed draft capital. 

Evgeny Kuznetsov Washington Capitals
Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Kuznetsov is coming off of a solid season of 12 goals and 55 points through 81 games. He has scored 165 goals and 386 assists through 680 games throughout his career, entirely with the Capitals. Marchment is coming off a 12-goal, 19-assist through 68 games season and has 32 goals and 89 points through his 159-game NHL career. He is a solid two-way forward who could play a huge role in Washington.

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Stranges is a 21-year-old forward prospect who played his first season of professional hockey in 2022-23. He split time between the American Hockey League (AHL) and the ECHL in the Stars’ system and is offensively gifted. In the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with the London Knights, he scored 63 goals and 158 points through 187 games and quickly proved he has the potential to be a top-six forward in the NHL. 

If this trade does happen, it would almost certainly put the Capitals in rebuild mode, but there’s a slim chance they could still be contenders. Management has been adamant about remaining competitive, but they also traded Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway near the deadline last season. Hopefully, if they do make a deal for Kuznetsov leading up to the deadline, they can try to remain in the playoff picture. 

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