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Capitals loan Evgeny Kuznetsov to AHL after clearing waivers

WASHINGTON (AP) — Longtime Washington Capitals centre Evgeny Kuznetsov cleared waivers Sunday after not being claimed by any of the NHL’s other 31 teams and has been assigned to Hershey of the American Hockey League.

The team put Kuznetsov on waivers Saturday, hours after he was cleared to practice by administrators for the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program. It’s unclear if Kuznetsov will report to the AHL-leading Bears.

“Just feel for him as a person and hope the outcome of this is just the best for him and his family,” coach Spencer Carbery said before his team’s game against Arizona on Sunday. “That’s what I’m hopeful for.”

Kuznetsov has one year left on his contract at a cap hit of $7.8 million and $8 million in actual money owed. That and his inconsistent play factored into Washington putting Kuznetsov on waivers and him going unclaimed.

Carbery talked to the rest of his players about Kuznetsov going on waivers, a nod to a player who has been a big part of Washington’s core for more than a decade.

“Someone that’s been in the organization a long time, and a lot of guys in our room or some of the guys in our room have been with him for all 11 years,” Carbery said. “I felt like I owed him that.”

It appears unlikely Kuznetsov, Washington’s leading scorer on its Stanley Cup run in 2018, plays another game for the team that drafted him in the first round 14 years ago. His tumultuous tenure with the Capitals has included frustrating ups and downs, most recently just 17 points in 43 games this season before going into the program last month.

The Capitals waived Kuznetsov at their earliest opportunity following his progress in the program, long after multiple years of trade talks went nowhere.

“We’ve had history together, and an opportunity for him to have a fresh start, I think, is the main theme of what we’re trying to accomplish,” general manager Brian MacLellan said Saturday. “It’s just an opportunity for our side, too, to start fresh and try to get him an opportunity to continue his career.”

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