NHL notes: Caps' prospect bails for KHL
|Russia's Evgeny Kuznetsov (L) celebrates after scoring against Sweden during their Euro Hockey Tour ice hockey match in Brno on April 28, 2012. (REUTERS)
Washington Capitals prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov intends to spend his next two seasons in Russia, playing for Traktor Chelyabinsk of the Kontinental Hockey League.
The Caps' first draft pick in 2010, Kuznetsov had 19 goals and 21 assists this season for Chelyabinsk. There had been speculation the forward would move to the NHL next season.
"It was a tough decision, I talked to my parents and decided to stay in Chelyabinsk for two more years," Kuznetsov told R-Sport (translated by the blog Russian Machine Never Breaks).
"The contract hasn't been signed yet though. I've decided right away that I won't go to any other Russian team."
Kuznetsov, who turns 20 on May 19, said his priority is the 2014 Sochi Games.
"I really want to make the Olympic team badly," he said. "We have a strong team, I'll get some experience and will play."
Forward Kris Versteeg and defenceman Jason Garrison won't make it to the free-agent market if Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon has his way.
Tallon told reporters Tuesday that resigning the two soon-to-be free agents -- Versteeg is restricted, Garrison unrestricted -- will be a priority during the off-season. Versteeg had 23 goals and 31 assists in 71 games this season while Garrison had 16 goals (third most among defencemen) and 17 assists in 77 games.
Garrison, 27, could be looking for an upgrade in the $5 million per season range while Versteeg, who has played with four teams in his five-year career, could be after a long-term deal worth around $3 million per season.
NO GIG FOR GIGUERE
Former Colorado Avalanche general manager Francois Giguere won't be the new Montreal Canadiens GM.
Giguere told La Presse Tuesday that he's no longera candidate for the job. Pierre Gauthier was fired as the Habs' GM in late March.
"The Canadiens said I'm no longer in the race," Giguere told La Presse. "They told me very recently, but I don't want to say any more to do any harm to the team's process. As a Quebec resident, I am certainly disappointed, but the Canadiens have several candidates who are qualified. For a Quebec resident, having the opportunity to get this post -- that would have been very special."
Giguere was GM of the Avalanche for three seasons before being let go in 2009.
Top NHL prospect Mikhail Grigorenko, who had 40 goals and 45 assists in 59 games with the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL this season, has been diagnosed with mononucleosis and will need 4-6 weeks to recover. Grigorenko is ranked third by NHL Central Scouting for the June draft ... St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said goalie Jaroslav Halak has been ruled out for the remainder of the second-round playoff series with the Los Angeles Kings. Halak was hurt in Game 2 of the first-round series with the San Jose Sharks and hasn't played since ... The Edmonton Oilers signed forward Kristians Pelss to a three-year, entry-level contract. The seventh-round draft pick in 2010 had 28 goals and 22 assists in 63 games with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL.