Nikita Tryamkin’s three-year contract in the KHL is set to expire at the end of the month so it’s time to start talking about him making his triumphant return to Vancouver.
The Canucks’ third-round pick from the 2014 draft has spent the last three seasons playing for Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg and his agent believes he’s ready to return to North America. Though his first stint with the Canucks was a bit of an up-and-down struggle, Tryamkin is an older and more mature player now.
“I believe it will be an easy transition,” Tryamkin’s agent, Todd Diamond, told The Province. And having been there before, he kind of knows what to expect. He knows what’s going to be demanded of the coaching and training staff and he’s committed.
“He never lost hope. He’s got a lot of pride and always wanted to come back. And this is probably the right time because you want this unit (roster) to grow together.”
The Canucks, of course, still have Tryamkin’s rights, so if he wants to make a return to the NHL, it’s in Vancouver unless they trade him elsewhere. Re-joining the Canucks now would be a completely different circumstance for Tryamkin than his experience between 2015 and 2017. Travis Green and defenceman coach Nolan Baumgartner have taken over for Willie Desjardins, which Diamond believes is a positive change.
“It’s a world of difference,” said Diamond. “The coach (Green) is demanding but fair and is doing a good job and can work with young players, and same with the defensive coach (Baumgartner). It’s night and day from where it was at that time.
Heading into next season, the Canucks have Quinn Hughes, Alex Edler, and Jordie Benn under contract on the left side and Tyler Myers under contract on the right side. Also on the right side, the Canucks have Troy Stetcher, who’s set to become a restricted free agent, and Chris Tanev, who can hit the open market. There’s also Olli Juolevi and Brogan Rafferty in the picture to compete with.
At a glance, the Canucks would likely have to move on from Benn in order to fit Tryamkin into the lineup. Hughes and Edler are the top two defenders on the left side and Benn is currently slotted into the third spot and paying him $2 million to sit and watch from the press-box isn’t ideal.
It would certainly be interesting to see if the big defender is ready for the NHL after spending three seasons working on his game in Russia, but a roster spot isn’t a guarantee right now.