The Likelihood Of Nikita Tryamkin Returning To The Vancouver Canucks, According To Nikita Tryamkin

Canuck fans were devastated when, in the opening days of the 2017 offseason, Nikita Tryamkin announced that he was leaving the team to return to the KHL. What seemed like a temporary sojourn to escape Willie Desjardins was soon revealed as a three-year commitment, which naturally led to fans questioning whether Tryamkin would ever return from Mother Russia. After a season away from Vancouver, it was announced that Tryamkin would be taking over as the captain of Avtomobilist for the 2018/19 season, which would appear to indicate that the player is in the KHL for the long haul. The news makes for a perfect opportunity to examine the facts of the matter, and determine once and for all whether it’s time to give up hope for the Return of the Big Guy in 2020—when his KHL contract concludes.

In order to cut through the speculation, we’ll be looking solely at statements that come straight from the workhorse defenseman’s mouth. These primary sources will be sorted into two categories—those that support the argument FOR Tryamkin one day returning to Vancouver, and those that support the argument AGAINST.



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In April of 2017, shortly after it was announced that Tryamkin would be leaving the NHL to join Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg, the first bits of information leaked out. Dave Tomlinson of TSN Radio 1040 opined that “there were some things about the North American game that just didn’t sit right with” Tryamkin, and recounted a specific incident in which “Tryamkin asked him why a player (Jamie Benn) would come back and want to fight him after he made a clean hit.”

Though Tryamkin remains an intimidating physical specimen, he does not seem to have the mean streak to go with it, and the constant expectations for him to add snarl to his game really seemed to rub him the wrong way. As Tomlinson recalls, Tryamkin once complained that the Canucks staff had showed him a highlight package of Chris Pronger “being Pronger,” and asked him to incorporate similar nastiness in his own play. According to Tomlinson, this just wasn’t in Tryamkin’s “DNA.”



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Tryamkin completed an interview with a KHL source shortly after rejoining Avtomobilist, and he did not speak kindly of his time in Vancouver. Tryamkin complained about his lack of icetime with the Canucks, and stated that “I would not get pleasure from the game and just sit, look and realize that there’s nothing you can do.”

Not only was Tryamkin struggling to earn icetime in Vancouver, he describes himself as struggling to understand the reasons behind his frequent benchings, saying “During the season, I was not happy with some of the matches. Sometimes I just do not understand – why?”

Overall, this interview painted a picture of a player not happy with the way he was treated by the Canucks, and one who was excited to play a role as a top-tier defenseman in the KHL.



Another interview later that summer with Sports-Express reporter Igor Eronko revealed that many of Tryamkin’s problems with the Canucks were actually problems with coach Willie Desjardins, who by that point had already been fired by the organization. Tryamkin describes great difficulty in communicating with Desjardins, stating “I have many times been superfluous. Yes, not even a lot – almost always me. And did not understand why. I spend a good game, and for five or seven minutes to the end I’m put on the bench without any explanation. It was very strange.”

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Tryamkin wasn’t just happy with his own deployment, but also that of fellow Russian Nikolay Goldobin, as he says “I’m certainly not a coach, but, in my opinion, Kolya (Goldobin) should be allowed to play. He is small, brisk, his hands are in order, and he knows how to score goals. In the first match [he] scored, and after that he was [benched for]. So what is this? Where is the logic?…He scores in Edmonton in the last game…he is again saddled. If a person does not play, how will he grow up? How do you understand that he can play?”

While these statements again demonstrate how unhappy Tryamkin was in Vancouver, they also clearly show that much of his displeasure centered around the coaching of Desjardins, something that is no longer a factor. Presumably, Tryamkin would not have the same issues with Travis Green.



Unfortunately, that same interview with Eronko also revealed that Tryamkin might not be a huge fan of the city of Vancouver, and the reason for his disdain is rather unexpected. When Tryamkin describes Vancouver as a “dope city,” he’s not just picking up on local slang. As Tryamkin elaborated, “Everywhere you go it’s not just smell, it really stinks of weed.”

This was not just an off-the-cuff statement, either. Tryamkin went on a veritable rant about marijuana, claiming that “Everyone smokes grass everywhere. The city is all in smoke. There is still a street – I do not remember what is called. So there even in a car it’s scary to go. A lot of bad guys. They can not stand on their feet, but they still smoke without stopping.”

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He even went as far as to suggest that Vancouver’s love of pot affected his home life, claiming that “In downtown, in the center of the city stank the same. We lived on the tenth floor – even there, it used to smell. This is how much you need to smoke? It seems to me, it was possible to stick the receiver out of the window and inhale.”

Again, these statements might seem humourous, but this is plainly something that legitimately bothers Nikita. With marijuana due to be legalized in mid-October, it’s also not something that is going to change anytime soon.



It wasn’t until December of 2017 that anyone asked actually asked about Tryamkin’s potential return to Vancouver. Sportsnet’s Rick Dhaliwal asked Avtomobilist assistant coach and general manager Alexei Volkov about the chances of a comeback, and Volkov responded that, “He talks about it, he wants to go back someday. He will give it one more shot when he’s ready.”

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While Volkov is obviously talking about the far-flung future of 2020, when Tryamkin’s contract with Avtomobilist ends, this statement can only be taken as a positive.



Like many messy breakups, the split between Nikita Tryamkin and the Vancouver Canucks involved some serious scrutiny of one another’s social media feeds. Several Canuck fans noticed that Tryamkin was still actively following the team on Instagram, and he confirmed as much in an April 2018 interview with Sports.ru, stating that, “the time difference is 12 hours, so I wake up, I turn on the games before training, it’s interesting to see how the team is doing. I watch the reviews, I watch the Russian guys who plays and who scores, I wonder.”

As could be expected, Tryamkin pays closest attention to his friend, Goldobin, but he is tuned in enough to the Canucks’ day-to-day happenings that he was able to comment on their fortunes in the 2018 Draft and the retirement of the Sedins, saying “[the] Brothers Sedin left, they made a huge contribution to the history of the club, amazing people who played for 18 years without changing the team. Now there will be a great chance to prove themselves [for] the young guys, and if Vancouver succeeds in taking the first or second pick in the draft, it will mean a lot, because the team needs another young leader like [Brock] Boeser. The first to go are [Andrei] Svechnikov and [Rasmus] Dahlin, very good players.”

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This amount of investment in his former club can only be read as a positive, as it clearly demonstrates that Tryamkin has yet to close the door on that chapter of his life.



Despite Tryamkin’s sunny disposition in the April 2018 Russian-language article, the situation was a lot more ambiguous when reporter Janik Beichler attempted an interview in English a month later. Biechler reported a strange exchange in which Tryamkin twice refused to conduct the interview in English, despite previously agreeing to do so, and his tone seemed mildly hostile.

As Biechler concluded, “I don’t think Tryamkin is very interested in talking to #Canucks media right now,” and that could be an indication that some tension still remains.

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Shortly after the terse exchange, Biechler was able to conduct an email interview with Tryamkin, in which the behemoth answered the question of whether he’d be interested in a return to Vancouver with the noncommittal “Why not?”

It’s far from a definitive statement, but it’s also an overall positive one, and it again shows that Tryamkin has left the door open to one day return.


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Unfortunately, the rest of that Biechler interview hinted that Tryamkin may still have some concerns in regards to his usage in Vancouver. He doesn’t sound like he’s convinced that the issue of icetime was resolved by the firing of Desjardins, openly wondering “would I be needed?” when the time came for his potential return.

This was the most blunt Tryamkin had ever been about his problems with the Canucks, outright affirming that ““The lack of ice time is the reason I decided to leave the Canucks,” and adding, “I was a first-pairing D-man in Yekaterinburg this season, so I was pretty happy there.”

This sentiment was backed up by some statements made by agent Todd Diamond after the NHL Combine in June of 2018, who told Rick Dhaliwal that “I spoke…with the Canucks about Nikita and how we can approach it and maybe get ahead of it so everyone knows he is a valued person on the depth chart.”

It seems obvious that, at the very least, Tryamkin is still worried that a return to Vancouver would mean more time stapled to the bench, and that doesn’t appear to be something he is interested in.



Nikolay Goldobin is Tryamkin’s best friend on the Canucks, and it stands to reason that he’s the best local source on the likelihood of Nikita’s comeback. In an interview with Dhaliwal in July of 2018, Goldobin admitted that “I try to get him back to NHL but I don’t think it’s happening for a year or two.”

Canuck fans are aware that the earliest Tryamkin could return is 2020, so the “year or two” part of this statement shouldn’t bother them. The fact that Goldobin seems to believe Tryamkin will return when his contract concludes, however, has to be taken as the best evidence yet.



When Tryamkin left for the KHL, fans quickly noticed that both of his Twitter profile pictures remained as photos of him in a Canucks jersey. Most assumed that Nikita was just slow to update, but the pictures remain more than a year after his departure. Tryamkin isn’t the most active tweeter in the world, but he logs in a couple of times a month, and it stands to reason that he would have changed the pics by now if they really bothered him. This may seem frivolous, but it’s further evidence that Tryamkin doesn’t outright resent the Canucks organization, and that he doesn’t mind seeing himself in the blue-and-green.

That essentially represents the clearest conclusion that can be gleaned from this multitude of statements—although there is still some tension between Nikita Tryamkin and the Vancouver Canucks organization, he has clearly left the door open for a return in 2020. That being said, it’s also clear that unless the team can demonstrate a commitment to giving him a larger role on the blueline, he’s perfectly happy to stay in the KHL. So, Nikita—how does the top pairing with Quinn Hughes sound?

  • Puck Viking

    We sure could use him this season. Its really too bad he couldnt be here at least for next season because this team needs to tear down the defense and start fresh.

    Move Edler at the deadline, then resign him. Move Tanev.

    Next years defense if Tryamkin could come back:

    Edler Stecher
    Tryamkin Hughes
    Chattfield/UFA Joulevi

    I wonder if the Gudbranson deal being 4.5 for the first 2 years then going to 3 in the final year is because that is when Tryamkin would be coming back, making it easier to move on from Gudbranson.

    • East van canuck

      Oh what a surprise, Viking first to post minutes after the piece goes up with tons more to come on the same thread i bet lol. Geez, get a life (or a job) man, you hate everything about this team!

      Flogging-a-dead-horse here I’m afraid. Slow, afraid to use his size, typical whining Russian, can’t speak fluent English, hates the city and his wife calls the shots, she insisted on going back home where they are loving life again.

      Tree ain’t coming back to Vancouver and it’s really no loss whatsoever, he is not and never will be the next Chara.

    • Rodeobill

      Especially if he comes from a place where that is probably lumped into the notion of drug culture and all things sketchy. I live in Taiwan and people are like Weed, Heroin, Meth, whatever, same diff more or less. I tend to think a lot of his problems could be mitigated just by learning the language here, making some local friends, etc. It seems clear that he didn’t know why many things happened and could only feel resentment. A handler or cultural mediator would have done wonders for him I bet. Perhaps a “hard knocks” coaching decision for him was only “illogical” for instance. He seems like the kind of kid (and he was when he was here) that is very moral. If he could understand context and the ”why” of many things he probably could have gotten along much better. I’m guessing at least 50% of his problems were culturally/linguistically related and could have been mitigated with someone helping that side of things. Maybe Goldy can be that for him when/if he returns.

  • rojan61

    Excellent article. Tryamkin missed two out of three games earlier this season and since he came back Nigel Dawes is wearing the C and Tryamkin is wearing an A. Any idea why this happened?

  • KD87

    He was ok at best and he wasnt a superstar player who is worth bringing back because he clearly doesnt understand the game here. he obviously overthinks everything and is a bit of a headcase.

    • Silverback

      Speaking of headcase, maybe we could get David Booth and Tryamkin back at the same time. They could discuss Russian philosophy and argue whether Putin or Trump would make the best dictator.

  • apr

    I think it may be a blessing in disguise that he left, as it allows him to develop more and gives a better understanding for him and his family of the lifestyle abroad. That said, the expectations will still be him to be physical, and he will still have to compete for a position with Hughes, Juolevi, potentially and Bowen Byram – although he can play the right side.

    That said, I can also see him being moved to a Russian friendly like Washington or Tampa..

    • Nuck16

      It’s funny though that all of his deployment and benching comments, not just for him but others, were being echo’d in the CA comments section at that time as well…like when you’re already out of the playoffs but yet you still decide to bench your future in favour of vets, even when the young players were playing well enough.

  • Kid Canuck

    Forgotten about him already. Played like he was 5 ft tall and wtf was with that tiny helmet he bought from Cliff Ronning! Nah, good riddance, the speed, puck moving game on D has passed this guy by. Keep him in the K or trade his rights elsewhere for a pick already.

  • I was pretty pissed when he signed in the KHL again but I’ve changed my position after hearing how bad Desjardins was. How can you blame him for wanting to get away from an incompetent coach? I didn’t like the fact that he came to camp out of shape but I also hated that the Canucks tried to make him play a style that wasn’t him either. If Tryamkin became a 6’7″ Tanev, who’d complain but they wanted him to be what Gudbranson could never be.

    I just hope that if he tries to come back, that he put in some more time before making the decision to take off. He’s a Top 2 defenceman in the KHL now but he played nearly 200 KHL games before getting that opportunity. If he signed something like a 2 year bridge deal to see where he fits in the NHL, that should be fair to both him and the team.

  • Defenceman Factory

    I was disappointed when Tryamkin left. He is a spectacle.

    I don’t remember him as a very good defenceman however. Adequate, room to develop and mishandled by Willie, the master of strange deployment strategies. Tryamkin was also a bit slow (more in his reaction time than skating) and not particularly fit, not a future top 4 guy on a good team. In 2 years I’m not sure Tryamkin will or should be one of the top 6 Dmen on this team. He could be but promising him such a thing would be a mistake.

      • Defenceman Factory

        In the same way he mishandled most young players. He would sit them in the 3rd period regardless of how well they played and when they got sat for a reason he never told them what the reason was.

          • Defenceman Factory

            that’s not what he did and you know it. He simply gave minutes to vets regardless of the state of the game and how well a kid was going.

            Even worse he never talked to the players and never explained when they got sat for errors. The guy was awful.

          • Defenceman Factory

            Killer do you not remember what Tryamkin said when he left upset about ice time. Virtanen has said he almost never spoke to Willie. He got sat the 3rd period of almost every game. Do you not remember the uproar the night Goldobin scored and got sat for the whole third period. Although not one of the young guys Burrows said in Willie’s 1st year he did not have a single conversation with Willie until January.

        • DogBreath

          Jeez, do we have to go through this again? It’s a fact that coaches treat each player differently to get the most out of players. Younger players need to prove their place in the lineup. If you aren’t prepared to fully commit to be the best you can, you don’t get ice time. Tryamkin was a raw talent who showed up to camp out of shape. he didn’t earn his ice time (nor has Goldobin), so played li’oted ninustes. His lack of preparation and comments after the fact speak to a lack of maturity.

    • Gotta remember that Tryamkin was a fourth-pairing defenceman who played on a bigger ice surface and wasn’t in shape when he got here. I wish he stuck it out another year, he probably would have been a lot better, but then again, Desjardins didn’t make that an appealing idea.

  • Killer Marmot

    Tryamkin wasn’t willing to pay his dues. He wanted to be treated like a star right out of the gate.

    It’s too bad for the Canucks, but it’s even worse for Tryamkin. He would have developed quicker under a coach who didn’t coddle him by pretending that Tryamkin was better than he was.

  • Hockey Bunker

    Hughes needs a big stay at home defender in the Chara mold so Hughes and turn it loose offensively.
    It ain’t Gudbranson. Tryamkin would need awesome!!! Send him Hughes videos, please, as part of the pitch and buy out the last year of his KHL contract

  • If Nikita does return, which I hope he does, he needs to better prepared for life in a foreign country, and not just him, but his family as well.
    Learn English. Visit ahead of time with family in tow. I think religion may be important to his family, so find a suitable local church and reach out to the local Russian community. Some adjust easily to living abroad, others not so much.

    There is room for Tryamkin on this team. Management should keep in touch with Nikita and follow up. I would offer him a new deal near the end of this season, his 2nd in the KHL, including a buy out of his KHL contract.

  • Locust

    Like a lot of Russians he feels entitled as an athlete. I don’t believe he was willing to do what was necessary – like showing up at camp completely unprepared and out of shape.
    His purposeful lack of aggression and passion was more than noticeable. He wasn’t a good teammate.
    If he comes back and is willing to work – great. If not – good riddance.

  • Fred-65

    Good article.

    But let’s be honest Tryamkin second choice was not a Rocket Scientist. That said combining Willy and NT on the same roster was not a good partnership. I doubt he will ever leave Russian hockey philosophy behind and understand the NHL game. I don’t think he likes competition and expects trh statre of a player he’s not. He add some intimidation factor but skill is not on par to a top 4 defenseman in the NHL. So what do you do, He needs to be paid as a 5-6 D and thinks he’s a 3-4 D. I can’t imagine that changing unless he was signed with Larionov as his agent or similar. Some one he respects and will listen to. Maybe get him out of the downtown area. It’s going to be tough to align where he thinks he is and where management think he’s at. I liked the idea that Larionov, Goldobin, Green and coaching staff sat down together and reviewed where he was currently and what he needs for the future, it’s a shame if that same concern wasn’t given to NT. I don’t know who his agent is but the vibes ain’t good IMO

  • Kanuckhotep

    Yekaterinburg? Isn’t that where the Bolsheviks shot the Romanovs (at Ipatiev House) in 1918? The Canucks have NO SHOT at getting Tryamkin back. Get it over it.

  • Burnabybob

    Seems like a pretty temperamental guy, if not a diva. I understand the homesickness. Home is home. But most young players are happy to take whatever ice time they can get and gradually work their way into the lineup. The Canucks were pretty accommodating with him, too, guaranteeing that he wouldn’t be sent down to Utica. Most clubs wouldn’t do that.

    He would be a nice addition, though, especially if he can play on the right side. He and Hughes would be an interesting combination. Hopefully he can hold his nose (literally and figuratively) and learn to tolerate Vancouver.

  • Holly Wood

    IMO the Khl is two big steps behind the NHL in skill and difficulty in playing. Linden Vey and Nigel Dawes are good examples of that. Tryamkin ‘s success in the K does not in any way assure us that will transfer to NHL and the Canucks. It’s fine that he holds a higher opinion of himself than Willie did, but not many who watched him seen him as a #3/4 at that point of his career. If he does return,hopefully he loses the self entitled drama and plays his way into a top 4.

    • Kootenaydude

      Dawes has lit it up everywhere he’s been but the NHL. Great release. Was going thru some personal struggles during his NHL stint. Obviously things didn’t align during his NHL stint. Tryamkin acts like an entitled white kid. Might be too much of a “ME FIRST “ player for this organization. Just a 6’7” child.

  • Doodly Doot

    Interesting article, but also a bit odd. Tryamkin is not going to be available until AFTER the ‘highly likely’ lockout coming in 20/21. I believe that Van has his rights until July 1, 2022. That would mean that IF he wanted to come to the Canucks for 21/22, he could, but what are the odds that he stays in the K earning a living while NHL’rs are locked out (and some likely also playing in the K) and just decides to wait out his situation with the Canucks and becomes a free agent July 1, 2022. Seems quite plausible to me.

  • Fairway

    Everything I have read about the guy spells out “Let me stay in Russia” or ” I am a high maintenance Diva”
    Vancouver stinks more than other cities? Please

  • Fred-65

    Many Russian players have bad raps. Of the number of Russians I’ve had to deal with the cultural difference between them, N.America and Europeans is pretty big. The best chnace to get a Russian is one that has played junior over in NA. They become philosophically adjusted. Tryamkin brought not only his hulk over here but his cultural philosophy IMHO. It clashed. Goldobin played junior in NA and is settled to the way of life. Tryamkin x 2 ( his wife) are not adjusted and likely moaned in unison back and forth compounding each other disgust. Fortunately for Goldobin he has Larionov as an agent. Larionov came from the USSR which mean’t every thing every where was better than life back in the USSR. He has councilled Goldobin and that is what Tryamkin needs more than a new coach. He needs some one he respects, is Russian and can tell him to work hard and smell the coffee ( rather than the weed)
    As a hockey player he has some good attributes which a good coach willing to meet Tryamkin half way might succeed to make the most of the skills he has. Unfortunately I don’t think Green is that coach, he’s more a take it or leave it style ( from what I’ve heard ) Tryamkin has good feet for his size and a wing span to cover up his mistakes. He can hold the blue line and frankly few opposing forwards like that.
    The question is can Vcr some how get a Russin philosophy guru to put his head on his shoulder, if they’re unwilling to do that … trade him while you can

  • Canuck57

    I would think that the problem with Tryamkin was really more about Desjardins than Tryamkin. Desjardins had the exact same problem with Ilya Kovalchuk in LA…so Dejardins’ problem appears to be dealing with Russians more than anything. However, having said all of that it also appears that Tryamkin had a terrible time adjusting to the western way of life while he was here, which was not helped in any way by a coach who seemed to dislike Russians, and that doesn’t bode well for any potential return to the Canucks’ lineup.

    Also, the fact that Goldobin does not seem to have a great rapport with Travis Green sort of makes me worry that the problem with Tryamkin will simply continue if he returns to Vancouver. You can bet that Tryamkin will be watching what happens to Goldobin very closely this year (2019) before making any decision about possibly returning to the Canucks too. If Goldobin is continually benched for playing well (and in the process making the coach – in his own mind – look stupid to his superiors), you will see Tryamkin sign an extension in the KHL in early 2020.