Evgeny Kuznetsov CAR practice

Evgeny Kuznetsov was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes by the Washington Capitals on Friday for a third-round pick in the 2025 NHL Draft.

Kuznetsov had been waived by the Capitals on March 2 and reported to Hershey of the American Hockey League after going unclaimed. The 31-year-old forward has not played since Jan. 27 and entered the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program on Feb. 5. Earlier on March 2, he was cleared to resume practicing and entered the follow-up care phase of the player assistance program.

Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour said Kuznetsov is expected to play against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday (12:30 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+)

"Evgeny is a high-level playmaker who will add to our offensive firepower," Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said. "He brings even more playoff experience to our lineup, and we're excited to give him a fresh start in Carolina."

Kuznetsov has one season remaining after this one on an eight-year, $62.4 million contract ($7.8 million average annual value) he signed with Washington on July 2, 2017. The Capitals will retain 50 percent of the contract.

After he cleared waivers, Washington general manager Brian MacLellan said the team might be willing to retain some salary to trade Kuznetsov in the right deal.

"I think we're open to anything that gives him an opportunity to continue his career the way he wants to continue it," MacLellan said.

Selected in the first round (No. 26) of the 2010 NHL Draft, Kuznetsov has 568 points (171 goals, 397 assists) in 723 regular-season games for the Capitals, including four seasons of at least 20 goals. He has 67 points (29 goals, 38 assists) in 87 Stanley Cup Playoff games, and led the postseason with 32 points (12 goals, 20 assists) to help Washington win the Stanley Cup in 2018.

After he had an NHL career-high 83 points (27 goals, 56 assists) in 79 regular-season games in 2017-18, his production has wavered. He had 78 points (24 goals, 54 assists) in 79 games in 2021-22 before dropping to 55 points (12 goals, 43 assists) in 81 games last season, when the Capitals missed the playoffs for the first time since 2014. Kuznetsov has 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in 43 games this season and was a healthy scratch against the Arizona Coyotes on Dec. 4.

The move comes less than a day after the Hurricanes acquired forward Jake Guentzel and defenseman Ty Smith from the Pittsburgh Penguins for forward Michael Bunting, forward prospects Vasily Ponomarev and Ville Koivunen, the rights to forward Cruz Lucius, a conditional first-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft, and a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2024 draft.

Guentzel has 52 points (22 goals, 30 assists) in 50 games this season but hasn't played since Feb. 14 because of an upper-body injury. However, the 29-year-old forward is skating and is eligible to come off long-term injured reserve Sunday.

Guentzel is in the final season of a five-year, $30 million contract ($6 million average annual value) he signed with Pittsburgh on Dec. 27, 2018, and can become an unrestricted free agent after the season. He has 466 points (219 goals, 247 assists) in 503 regular-season games and 58 points (34 goals, 24 assists) in 58 Stanley Cup Playoff games, including helping the Penguins win the Stanley Cup in 2017.

The Hurricanes (37-19-6) are second in the Metropolitan Division, four points behind the New York Rangers.

The Capitals (29-23-9), who traded defenseman Joel Edmundson to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday and forward Anthony Mantha to the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday, are five points behind the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, who are tied for the two wild cards into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

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