One of the rare highlights of the Evgeny Kuznetsov on an eight-year extension.might have been general manager Brian MacLellan locking up 26-year-old center
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 before Russia, with some drew Kovalchuk back to the KHL.