Capitals sign Kuznetsov to eight-year, $62.4 million deal


The Washington Capitals have announced a long-term contract for Evgeny Kuznetsov.

The Capitals have signed Kuznetsov, a restricted free agent, to an eight-year, $62.4 million extension.

As expected, that represents a substantial raise from the two-year deal, with an NHL salary of $3.4 million this past season, that recently expired.

“Evgeny is a premier center in the NHL and we are pleased that he will remain in Washington for at least the next eight years,” said general manager Brian MacLellan in a statement.

“It is difficult to find a player of his caliber, who is in his prime and makes his teammates better. Evgeny plays with a tremendous skill, speed and tenacity needed to win in the NHL.”

Now 25 years old, Kuznetsov’s total production dropped in 2016-17, as he scored 19 goals and 59 points in 82 games. But he has also shown to have a very high ceiling, scoring 20 goals and 77 points the previous campaign — just his second full season in the league.

He did have a strong, productive playoff with 10 points in 13 games, before the Capitals were ousted in the second round by Pittsburgh. Despite losing to the rival Penguins, Kuznetsov had a good series with seven points.

Per CapFriendly, the Capitals now have about $4.65 million in cap space — with about $70.3 million already committed to only 15 players for next season. Andre Burakovsky, a restricted free agent, is still in need of a new deal. The task now falls to MacLellan to try to figure out a way to gain more cap flexibility.

MacLellan, in May, called Alex Ovechkin “a big part of our franchise” but also didn’t completely rule out the possibility of a trade involving the prolific scorer and Capitals star — provided it was a “legitimate hockey deal.” He has four years remaining on his current deal, with a $9.538 million cap hit.

Today’s signing is the latest for the Capitals, who have already committed large sums of money to Dmitry Orlov (click here) and T.J. Oshie (click here).

Dahlin headlines Sweden’s roster for World Junior Summer Showcase

Leave a comment

Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, potentially the NHL’s first overall draft pick in 2018, will suit up for Sweden at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan.

Dahlin, who doesn’t turn 18 until April, has wowed scouts with his skating and puck-moving ability. At the 2017 World Juniors, he participated as a 16-year-old, garnering tantalizing reviews in the process.

Top-10 picks in the 2017 draft, Elias Pettersson (5th, Vancouver Canucks) and Lias Andersson (7th, New York Rangers), will also be in Plymouth representing Sweden.

Click here for Sweden’s and Finland’s Summer Showcase rosters. The tournament runs from July 29 – Aug. 5 and also features players from the United States and Canada.

Among the draft-eligible Finns to watch is 17-year-old forward Jesse Ylonen, who could be a late first-rounder in 2018.

Related: USA Hockey invites 42 players to World Junior Summer Showcase

All of a sudden, hope for hockey in Houston


Leslie Alexander’s decision to sell the NBA’s Rockets has revived hope for a hockey team in Houston.

That’s because Alexander is arguably the biggest reason that Houston doesn’t already have a team. The 72-year-old billionaire controls Toyota Center, where the Rockets play. Without getting into all the details, he’s essentially been the only one who could bring an NHL franchise to the city.

From the Houston Press:

But Alexander selling the Rockets (and the lease that goes with it), opens up an NHL-ready hockey arena in Houston. And that’s something that Seattle, which the NHL seemed to favor, can’t offer, and unlike Quebec City, Houston offers up a huge media market with many, many large corporations around to buy up luxury seats.

Houston is certainly a big city. In fact, only four metro areas in the United States — New York, L.A., Chicago and Dallas — have higher populations.

And Houston is growing fast.

Jeremy Jacobs, the influential owner of the Boston Bruins, has not hidden his desire to put an NHL team in Toyota Center. Back in 2015, he told, “I would love to see one in Houston, but we can’t get into that building.”

Perhaps soon the NHL won’t have that impediment.

Predators hire new assistant coach in wake of Housley departure

Leave a comment

The Nashville Predators have hired Dan Muse as an assistant coach.

Muse, who spent the last two years as head coach of the USHL’s Chicago Steel, will be in charge of the Preds’ forwards as well as the penalty kill, while associate head coach Kevin McCarthy  — in the wake of Phil Housley’s departure — will now have responsibility for the defense and the power play.

Muse led the Steel to a championship in May. He also won an NCAA title in 2013 as an assistant coach for Yale.

“Dan comes to us as a successful young coach that brings great energy and passion to the game,” said Preds head coach Peter Laviolette in a statement. “He has worked his way up through the coaching ranks, first winning an NCAA title at Yale in 2013, and then taking a Chicago team that had missed the playoffs eight straight seasons and turned them into the Clark Cup champions in just two seasons. We are excited to welcome him to the organization and look forward to his contributions to the coaching staff.”

Senators avoid arbitration with Ryan Dzingel

Leave a comment

The Ottawa Senators have narrowly avoided arbitration with Ryan Dzingel.

Per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Dzingel has signed a two-year deal with a cap hit of $1.8 million.

Dzingel’s hearing was scheduled for today. Last season, the 25-year-old forward had 14 goals and 18 assists in 81 games.

Earlier this week, the Sens also avoided arbitration with Jean-Gabriel Pageau, though that case didn’t go down to the wire like Dzingel’s did.

Pageau and Dzingel were the only Sens with arbitration hearings scheduled.

Related: Sens want to avoid arbitration with Dzingel