Hurricanes make another big pre-NHL trade deadline move. They got Kuznetsov from the Capitals

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The Carolina Hurricanes made another big move on NHL trade deadline day by acquiring center Evgeny Kuznetsov from the Washington Capitals.

About 12 hours after landing scoring winger Jake Guentzel from Pittsburgh in a blockbuster deal, the Hurricanes kicked off Friday by sending a 2025 third-round pick to Washington for Kuznetsov. Washington is retaining half of his salary through next season — a cap hit of $7.8 million with $8 million due in 2024-25.

And it didn’t take long for league’s other contenders to jump into action.

Two days after acquiring Vladimir Tarasenko from Ottawa, the league-leading Florida Panthers added depth and leadership in landing Buffalo’s Kyle Okposo. Buffalo acquired minor-league defenseman Calle Sjalin in a deal that provide the 35-year-old Sabres captain a chance to compete in the playoffs in what could be his final NHL season.

The surging Jets acquired forward Tyler Toffoli in a trade with New Jersey in becoming Winnipeg’s latest addition after landing center Sean Monahan from Montreal during the All-Star break. The Devils acquired a 2024 third- and a 2025 second-round pick while also retaining half of the pending free agent’s salary for the remainder of the season.

And the Metropolitan Division-leading New York Rangers added blue-line depth by acquiring Chad Ruhwedel from a Penguins team that is suddenly entering a rebuilding mode.

The focus remains on the Hurricanes, who continued adding to an already talented roster, and a team that fell short after managing a combined six goals in being swept by Florida in the Eastern Conference finals.

“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, 31, cleared waivers last weekend upon being able to practice after receiving care from the player assistance program. He was then demoted to the minors, with Capitals GM Brian MacLellan saying he would attempt to trade the player who led Washington in scoring during its run to win the 2018 Stanley Cup.

There remain numerous players who are in position to be dealt before the deadline, with much of the focus on goalies. Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom, Montreal’s Jake Allen and Boston’s Linus Ullmark are among the candidates being shopped.

The Capitals might not be done with Nic Dowd, Charlie Lindgren and Max Pacioretty considered to be on the market. Other trade candidates include Arizona’s Matt Dumba and Jason Tucker.

Seattle, which traded center Alexander Wennberg to the New York Rangers earlier in the week, did not have to do the same with winger Jordan Eberle. The Kraken agreed to terms with Eberle on a two-year contract worth $9.5 million.

The Boston Bruins and Los Angeles Kings are the only teams among the top 12 Stanley Cup favorites not to make a significant addition over the past several weeks.

Meantime, its the Capitals and Penguins who find themselves in the unusual position of being sellers at the trade deadline after a near two decades of dominance that began with the arrivals of Alex Ovechkin in Washington in 2004 and Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh a year later. Two teams that have combined to win four Stanley Cups since are focusing on the future with both in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for a second consecutive season.

Kuznetsov had a tumultuous tenure in Washington since 2018, including persistent trade rumors that finally culminated in sending him to Carolina to chase another championship.

If Kuznetsov helps the Hurricanes win it all for the second time in franchise history, they would send first- and fifth-round picks in this year’s draft to Pittsburgh to complete the deal for Guentzel, a pending free agent who has twice been a 20-goal scorer.

Kuznetsov was already in North Carolina prior to the deal, practicing with the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears in preparation for their game at Charlotte on Friday night. He could be back in the U.S. capital soon, when the Hurricanes visit Washington on March 22.