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Report: Predators Discussed Duchene-For-Kuznetsov Swap Last Summer



Photo of Matt Duchene by John Russell/Nashville Predators

Nashville Predators general manager Barry Trotz didn’t hide the fact that he was aggressively pursuing Washington Capitals center Evgeni Kuznetsov during the offseason.

In the days after the 2023 NHL Draft up until the start of free agency, Trotz tried to swing a deal for the 31-year-old forward, and he had the parameters of a potential blockbuster in place before it ultimately fell through according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

“If you go back to the last draft, [the Capitals] had something they were talking about with Nashville that Kuznetsov would have went to the Predators for Matt Duchene, and that didn’t work,” Friedman told NHL Network. “Ultimately, the Predators bought out Duchene and he went to Dallas where he’s had a really good year. Don’t forget…Barry Trotz won a Stanley Cup with Kuznetsov at his best in 2018, so that’s why they talked about it.”

Sources told Nashville Hockey Now last summer that the Predators did indeed inquire about trading for Kuznetzov; however, it wasn’t confirmed whether it was a one-for-one deal.

Kuznetsov had three of his best seasons with Trotz as his head coach in 2015 (20 goals, 77 points), 2017 (27 goals, 83 points) and 2018 (21 goals, 72 points).

The Predators ended up buying out the final three years Duchene’s contract on June 30 after failing to find a willing trade partner like they did with the Colorado Avalanche and Ryan Johansen. The move will cost the Predators a little over $19 million through the 2028-29 season.

It appears Kuznetsov’s relationship with the Capitals has soured to a point that the two are expected to part ways in the offseason, leaving the door open for a potential Trotz/Kuznetsov reunion next season.

“I think there’s two options,” Friedman added. “No. 1 is a buyout at the end of the season, and that would make Kuznetsov an unrestricted free agent. Or No. 2, would there be any scenario where he’d consider what Filip Zadina did? He left several million on the table, took a termination from the Red Wings and signed with San Jose for a new opportunity. I think that’s very unlikely.”

Follow Michael Gallagher on X/Twitter @MGsports_

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