CanucksArmy Prospect Profiles 2015: #9 Ronalds Kenins

Banner art by Matthew Henderson

Bringing us down into the single digits of prospects within the Vancouver Canucks’ pool is Ronalds Ķēniņš.  

Kenins is such a good prospect that even his own name is plural. Ronalds Kenins is so sneaky good that in the mid-term review and in last summers review Kenins did not even make the top-20. Quantum leaps forward are possible though when you start the season in the bottom-6 in Utica and end it in the NHL, scoring key playoff goals.

Having seemingly come out of no where, let’s continue past the jump to see what we have in this Olympic Latvian.

While Kenins went undrafted, he continued to play in the Swiss junior and Tier 2 senior leagues producing over a point a game. In his 20-year-old season, Kenins jumped to the top senior Swiss league, the National League A. After putting up 17 points in 45 game he was signed by the Canucks to an entry-level contract as a 21-year-old (and thanks to Marc Crawford for pointing him out to Vancouver).

Due to having a contract with the Zurich Lions, Kenins remained in Switzerland for one more year where his team won the league championship and he put up 4 goals in 18 playoff games. Kenins’ resume also includes a tonne of international hockey experiences, as the young forward has played on Latvia’s World Junior team, U18 World Junior team, representing Latvia at the National level, the Olympics Qualifiers, and even at the Olympics joining the elite group of Canuck Olympians in 2014.

Last season was Kenins’ first season in North America and he had quite the year.  Kenins started the year in Utica playing in a depth forward role. In that time he scored 5 goals and 7 assists in 36 games – nothing that really jumps off of the page.

Halfway through the season Kenins was the “unlikely” player to first receive a call-up when Vancouver started to get bit by injuries. After receiving his call up, Kenins managed to make himself stand out by scoring 4 goals and 8 assists in 30 games (all even-strength, 10.53% shooting percentage).  He was also called upon to skate in 5 playoff games where he scored a goal and an assist.

At even-strength Kenins was averaging 12:03 a game, so he was logging serious minutes. While his possession numbers were not positive (47%) this looks to be a factor of teammates, as his CF% relative to his regular line-mates was positive (0.6%).  Kenins’ most common linemates were Jannik Hansen and Bo Horvat (and that fourth-line was really good), with Lucas Sbisa as his most common defenceman on the ice.

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forward who plays every shift with a lot of dynamic and high intensity.
Ronald Kenins creates scoring chances using his explosive acceleration
and good speed. Battles hard for the puck and is not afraid to go into
hot areas to score goals. He has a lot of offensive upside and is a
perfect addition to an energy line. (Rafik Soliman, Elite Prospects)


Kenins continues to be a unique case for PCS% given that a relatively small number of players from the Swiss system have emerged to become long time NHLers.  This is why we aren’t able to say much on his past, but given his season in the AHL and NHL it’s likely the Canucks found a gem.  One name that kept coming up in his cohort from his NLA days is Damien Brunner.

Using his NHL comparables from PCS some of the names that pop up from his past season include Christian Berglund, Alex Steen, Jan Bulis, Jay McClement, Maxime Talbot, and many other well-known players.  His AHL cohorts based on his PCS data from the past season include lesser known players Brandon Prust, Marc Crawford, Eric Nystrom, Paul Bissonnette, and Alex Burrows.  It’s more likely he will turn out like the players in the AHL cohort, in my opinion.  His PCS% for his 23-year-old AHL season was 10.36%, but it’s definitely starting to look like he is part of the 10% that make it.

In only a year Kenins has jumped from a relatively unknown to a prospect who is looking to be an energy third-liner who can improve his teammates and score.  After this past year’s performance Kenins received a one-year one-way NHL deal and will start in Vancouver.  Should he continue to play like he has he will easily earn himself a larger payday and a longer contract next summer.  Should he falter he can easily be returned to Utica (risking waivers) and be replaced by a younger prospects.

  • acg5151

    Excellent balanced article, I might put him one or two places higher, but the increasing quality of the draft picks is lowering him a bit. According to the analysis, basically Vancouver has ten players likely to be in the NHL for at least sometime, not bad considering 3 years ago we would have been stretching it to name more than 6 at that level.

  • acg5151

    I like a lot what Ronny Kenins brings to the table. I am surprised he is listed as a prospect as he played almost half a season as a Canuck and is almost a sure bet t play in Vancouver this season.

  • acg5151

    Last year it was at number 5 that I wondered where Ronalds was. Surprised you missed him. He ended up doing better than every prospect except Horvat. His biggest upside could be an Alex Burrows type player – so smart and hard working.

  • Steampuck

    Kenins is the kind of reason I’m not totally down on the Canucks’ future. I don’t think we put enough stock into the difficulty of acquiring the right supporting cast. Yes: they’re more accessible than truly elite players, but smart, high energy guys who fit the system are harder to come by than we typically appreciate. Especially through free agency where chemistry is not a sure thing. As much as developing top line players is a task, so is preparing the right kind of bottom six.

    • Waffles

      This is exactly right. Pittsburg has strong 1st and 2nd line centers in Crosby and Malkin but ever since losing Staal and a few more pieces of their supporting cast they haven’t been able to make a deep run into the playoffs. They’ve put a lot of effort into shoring up their supporting cast this year by acquiring Bonino and Kessel as well as some other minor pieces.

      Benning has done an excellent job building out the bottom end of the Canucks’ roster but I’m hoping he has a few tricks up his sleeve for filling out the top end following the Sedin era.

    • Orville Wright

      I would agree. Bringing players through the system introduces them to the team culture, as emerging juniors, or as in Kenins case, through the Swiss league. What is important here is that they grow and learn what is expected of them as they play their way out of Utica and make the big team.

  • Orville Wright

    The problem is that the bottom end of the roster is where prospects need to come in and be given a chance. With both Prust and Dorsett, how much chance do Gaunce and Grenier have of being given the same opportunity Kenins was last year?

    The only reason Kenins succeeded was because he was given a chance at the NHL level. This flies in the face of the “let them earn it” crowd, because he wasn’t doing spectacularly well at the AHL level before making the jump.

    Benning has shored up the bottom of the roster, but no prospect (short of maybe Shinkaruk or Virtanen) is going to jump right into the first/second line at the NHL level. If you’re going to give them a chance, that chance needs to be at the bottom of the roster, where we now have a glut of older veterans.

    • Orville Wright

      Actually the coach Travis Green made the recommendation that Ronalds Kenins should be called up because of the way he was playing not because of his stats. So in fact it is completely in keeping with the “let them earn it”. When Grenier and Gaunce and Shinkaruk etc have earned it they will get their chance. Benning has received a good deal of criticism this off season for what amounts to opening spots for the farm team to fill when the inevitable injuries occur. Whether this ends of being a good strategy or not, time will tell.

    • Orville Wright

      I don`t understand why the concept of having two vets on your team that provide energy, toughness, character and work ethic are a bad thing and so hard to accept. Last winter I kept reading articles about how Horvat sat next to Dorsett and was continually picking his brain on how to become a more complete player. By all accounts, this was a resounding success. I also believe Benning when he says if a youngster makes the team, he will move a veteran to make room for him. I might be in the minority on this but I will gladly have Prust and Dorsett on my team protecting my skill guys and setting a high example of work ethic and dedication for the youngsters to learn from.

  • Orville Wright

    Kenins has turned out exactly like I hoped. Alex Friesen also needs a chance to be a bottom 6 forward, he also plays an energy game but has a little scoring touch. Then we could have a cheap, physical and talented fourth line. Call him up, lets see what we’ve got!!

  • Orville Wright

    A little surprised by the positivity over Kenins who looked lost once he lost his jump (after about 15 games). Didn’t think he brought much in the playoffs either….

    Be surprised to see him on the team by Christmas.

  • Orville Wright

    The one question with Kenins is, how much did playing with Horvat influence his jump from bottom 6 in the AHL to productivity in the NHL?

    If Kenins is able to produce at a lower, but steady point total along with his fast physical play, then we know he is a steal. If playing with Horvat was the linchpin to his success then that’s a win also, because he still will play physical, but we know Bo makes others that much better.

    I like guys that don’t take shifts off?

  • Orville Wright

    i love character guys like Prust and Dorsett. I hope that Kenins is able to join this group of powerful energizer bunnies. Guys like this make it fun to watch games that have more intensity.