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Capitals Waive Kuznetsov; Dirty Bird Done in D.C.



NHL news, Washington Capitals, Evgeni Kuznetsov waived

Evgeny Kuznetsov has long been a staple of the revived Washington Capitals, including their 2018 Stanley Cup championship. The supremely talented player has also dealt with personal demons and has been on the outs with the organization for several years.

Saturday, Kuznetsov’s tenure with the Capitals seemingly came to an end when the Capitals put him on waivers.

“It’s about a fresh start for Kuzy,” GM Brian McClellan told reporters. “I think he’s been looking for a change in environment. This might set the wheels in motion for that to be accomplished.”

McClellan said they would assign the player to Hershey of the AHL. Kuznetsov carries a $7.8 million salary cap hit through next season, and the Capitals will recoup the equivalent of $1.15 million this season by waiving him and stashing him or his contract in the AHL.

Any other team can submit a claim by 2 p.m. on Sunday. In the event of multiple claims, the team with the highest waiver priority would be awarded the player.

In 43 games this season, Kuznetsov has 17 points (6-11-17) and was an astounding minus-11. He last played for the Capitals on Jan. 27. On Feb. 5, he placed himself in the NHL Player Assistance Program.

Saturday morning, he was placed in the next phase of treatment and cleared by the program to return to practice, but not games. However, the club placed him on waivers.

“I think we have a history here that has gone on for a while, and I think it’s been frustrating for both sides,” McClellan said. “I think it’s an opportunity for our side, too, to start fresh and try to get him an opportunity to continue his career.”

McClellan was non-committal if the Capitals would buy out Kuznetsov this summer if he is not claimed.

The Capitals would save $4 million next season by buying out Kuznetsov this summer but would be hit with a $2 million penalty in 2025-26, according to the buyout calculator on

Kuznetsov, 31, has embodied the talented Russian player. Few rivaled his speed, stickhandling, and creativity. He drew attention during the Capitals 2018 Cup run with his “dirty bird” goal celebration, emulating the Atlanta Falcons defense’s celebration in which he would flap his arms like a bird.

In 2018, Kuznetsov scored the overtime game-winning goal in Game 6, Round Two, to end the Pittsburgh Penguins’ quest for a three-peat Stanley Cup championship run.