One of the rare highlights of the Washington Capitals' cap-strapped offseason might have been general manager Brian MacLellan locking up 26-year-old center Evgeny Kuznetsov on an eight-year extension.

But even that might not have come to fruition had MacLellan not offered a lucrative $62.4 million to the restricted free agent, as Kuznetsov told Igor Eronko, of Sport-Express, that he considered joining other Russian players in fleeing the NHL for the Kontinental Hockey League in 2017-18.

"I actually did have several options for my future as a hockey player," Kuznetsov said, per Eronko, "and I considered them all, including the notion of returning to the KHL. Clearly the chance to play in the Olympics is a significant factor for all Russian players, and I'm no exception. But it so happened that Washington values me highly and made me an offer I couldn't refuse, as banal as that sounds."

The Olympics factor has been prominent this offseason, with guys like Alex Ovechkin unofficially threatening to participate in the PyeongChang Games during the 2017-18 NHL season. And so, too, has Russia's influence on the league. Ilya Kovalchuk, for example, was considered a prime candidate for a return to the NHL and reportedly had the New Jersey Devils seeking trade offers for the forward before Russia, with some reported help from Vladimir Putin's "inner circle," drew Kovalchuk back to the KHL.