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07/17 17:46 CDT Hurricanes put Evgeny Kuznetsov on unconditional waivers to terminate his NHL contract Hurricanes put Evgeny Kuznetsov on unconditional waivers to terminate his NHL contract By STEPHEN WHYNO AP Hockey Writer The Carolina Hurricanes put Evgeny Kuznetsov on unconditional waivers on Wednesday for the purpose of terminating his contract, a move that brings an abrupt end to the talented but inconsistent center's roller coaster NHL career. Kuznetsov was still owed $6 million of his $8 million salary in the final season of his $64.2 million, seven-year deal originally signed in 2017. He walks away from that and gets to keep the $2 million bonus paid earlier this month. "Ultimately both sides agreed this was the best course of action for both the player and the team," general manager Eric Tulsky said. "We thank Evgeny for his time with the team and wish him and his family the best." Reports emerged earlier in the week that Kuznetsov was planning to mutually terminate his contract and go home to Russia to play for SKA Saint Petersburg in the KHL. He and his camp had to agree to such a move for this to happen now, unless the Hurricanes waited for a buyout window to open later this summer when one of their restricted free agent arbitration cases was settled. Kuznetsov's agent, Craig Oster, did not respond Wednesday afternoon to a message seeking comment on the mutual termination or clarity on his client's future. While an arbitration hearing remains on the docket for Martin Necas, Carolina later Wednesday re-signed Jack Drury to a two-year contract worth $3.45 million and must still get a contract done for fellow forward Seth Jarvis with roughly $13 million in salary cap space to spend. "Jack took tremendous steps last season to solidify himself as a key part of our forward group," Tulsky said upon announcing the deal with Drury. "He is an extremely hard worker at both ends of the ice who can be relied upon at all situations, and we are excited to watch his continued growth in Carolina." Growth from young forwards is possible for the Hurricanes after an offseason of change that included the departures of Jake Guentzel, Teuvo Teravainen and Stefan Noesen --- plus now Kuznetsov. Carolina acquired Kuznetsov from Washington before the trade deadline in March, with the Capitals agreeing to retain half of his $7.8 million cap hit. His departure from North America removes the $3.9 million cap obligation for each team. Kuznetsov was the leading scorer and Conn Smythe runner-up on the Capitals' 2018 Stanley Cup run but has been up and down since, the constant subject of trade rumors and speculation. He had 13 points in 30 games in a limited role with the Hurricanes as they reached the second round, and coach Rod Brind'Amour even made Kuznetsov a healthy scratch for a game in the playoff series against the New York Rangers. The inconsistency was not lost on Kuznetsov, who after an early season game in October 2018 said he did not care about being a top-five player in hockey. "To be MVP, you have to work hard 365 (days) in a year, but I'm not ready for that," Kuznetsov said. "I want to have fun, and I want to make those risky plays when sometimes you don't have to play and you guys don't understand every time those plays. It's not easy to make. But to be MVP in this league, you have to play even better. You have to go next level. It's not easy. More importantly, you have to stay focused 365 (days), but that's not my style." His trouble was not just on the ice. The league in September 2019 suspended Kuznetsov three games without pay for "inappropriate conduct," less than a month after he was banned from playing for Russia for four years because of a positive test for cocaine. Kuznetsov more recently entered the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program in February. Upon him being cleared by program administrators to practice, the Capitals put him on waivers with the hope of giving him a fresh start and subsequently sent him to the minors. Before playing a game for the American Hockey League's Hershey Bears, Kuznetsov was traded to Carolina for a 2025 third-round pick. Kuznetsov was the 26th pick in the draft by Washington in 2010. He has 206 goals and 442 assists for 648 points in 840 regular-season and playoff games since making his NHL debut in 2014. ___ AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL
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