So far, Jack Eichel remains with the Buffalo Sabres. But in the event that the star center gets moved along with his large contract somewhere else, don’t be surprised if Evgeny Kuznetsov of the Washington Capitals becomes the next hottest item in the NHL.

Kuznetsov has long been rumored as a potential trade asset for the Capitals. Prior to the Caps extending Alex Ovechkin, moving Kuznetsov was among those viewed as an ideal way to create cap space on Washington’s payroll. But for Tarik El-Bashir of The Athletic, the closer the 2021-22 NHL regular season gets, the lesser it seems that the Capitals would actually send Kuznetsov away.

My gut feeling on the Kuznetsov trade speculation is this: if he were going to be dealt, it probably would have happened by now.

El-Bashir also wondered whether Kuznetsov becomes the next big domino to fall in the event that Eichel becomes shipped by the Sabres.

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Could the Jack Eichel saga affect things? As in, if a team that’s in on Eichel misses out, could said team then turn its attention to Kuznetsov? Hard to say. But it’s something to monitor if and when Eichel gets moved.

The Capitals star center played a big role in the team’s Stanley Cup run in 2018, but he’s not helped his image in the seasons after that with inconsistencies on the ice and issues off of it. In 2019, he was suspended by the NHL for three games because of cocaine use. The Russian forward’s has a contract that won’t expire until the conclusion of the 2024-25 season and carries a significant $7.8 million AAV.

Thorugh eight years in the NHL, Kuznetsov has racked up 129 goals and 129 assists across 520 regular-season games.