Major update on Kuzmenko situation in Vancouver from NHL insider Elliotte Friedman
Zuma Press  

Major update on Kuzmenko situation in Vancouver from NHL insider Elliotte Friedman

Are the Canucks really going to give up on this guy already?



The Vancouver Canucks look to have finally taken the step forward that fans and media analysts have been predicting for a few years now.

With a core group of players centered around captain Quinn Hughes, rock solid goaltender Thatcher Demko and star forwards Elias Pettersson, JT Miller and Brock Boeser, the Canucks finally look like a team ready to take the next step. This season, players like Nils Hoglander, Ilya Mikheyev  and Filip Hronek have also taken big steps and are now secondary or even primary contributors on a nightly basis. 

It's not all wine and roses for the entire Canucks roster though as last year's breakout player Andrei Kuzmenko has struggled mightily. Fresh of signing a two years, $11 million contract worth $5.5 million per season this past offseason, Kuzmenko has taken a step back both offensively and defensively this season. He's been made a healthy scratch twice in the past two weeks and he appears to be at odds with head coach Rick Tocchet. 

Kuzmenko as one of the Canucks best players last season with 39 goals and 74 points in his first NHL season.

Just this past week Tocchet stated that he was "sick of talking about him" and that Kuzmenko "needs to learn to back check". Ouch...

This past weekend NHL insider Elliotte Friedman reported that the Canucks are receiving trade offers on Kuzmenko and that GM Patrik Allvin and President Jim Rutherford are listening with open ears. This isn't to say that they've been 'shopping' Kuzmenko, just that he's in play if the Canucks can net a good return.

Today, Sportsnet Canucks insider Iain MacIntyre caught up with Rutherford to get some clarity on the Kuzmenko situation in Vancouver.

"Well, we'll keep an open mind," Rutherford told MacIntyre when asked about a potential trade. "I don't want to just lock ourselves into one answer. But we need to continue to try to help him."

"I'm concerned only to the point that now he's feeling the pressure," Rutherford continued. "And when you feel the pressure and you start pushing, squeezing the stick harder and passing when you should be shooting and vice versa, you get a little bit concerned."

"I believe in the staff we have and they will continue to work with him. He's a good player. He is a capable player. Is he a guy that's going to score 40 goals again? Maybe not. But certainly, the way he plays, you should be able to project him at 25."

Meanwhile the Canucks have not suffered offensively despite Kuzmenko's lack of production. Miller, Pettersson, Hughes and Boeser are all within the NHL's top 10 in scoring and the team is boating a +34 goal differential. 

It's become clear that Kuzmenko maybe isn't a driver of offence and benefitted mightly last season from playing alongside Pettersson and Miller.

Source: Iain MacIntyre