Andrei Kuzmenko talks goals for the year, babysitting Vasily Podkolzin’s daughter, and more

Michael Liu
7 months ago
Day two of Canucks training camp brought about the usual after an offseason, and for Andrei Kuzmenko, he’s enjoying getting back to work.” I like it. Good practice. Good work. I tired, as usual today.”
The Russian winger is coming into the season with plenty of high expectations. After his first season in the NHL saw him rack up 39 goals and 74 points, Kuzmenko will try to sustain as much of that production as he can. But for him, he’s already moved on from that dynamic campaign. “I don’t remember how last season was. Last season is finished for me,” Kuzmenko said after the morning ice session. “For me, it is very interesting this season on the first line and go to playoffs.”
His focus isn’t just on the points either  – Kuzmenko has taken Tocchet’s message to be a better all-around player to heart. “How I can help my team? Okay, good defense, good shots, good goals. This is very important for me because we have a great team.”
“I want [to] score because my scores help my team.”
He’ll be looking to shoot more too. “One shot, two shots, and the game is so bad for me,” Kuzmenko laughed.
That mindset and focus as translated into a different training focus this offseason. Kuzmenko spent time in Bali, but it wasn’t just fun and games. “Last season, it was so difficult after the game, not good recovery, very tired after every game,” the Russian said, working on being more conditioned for this year. “I need the work, [and to] be better.” He’s feeling good coming into training camp, and that recovery is already feeling better.
Another role that he picked up during the summer was becoming a babysitter. Vasily Podkolzin has already enlisted his teammates’ help in taking care of his daughter, and Kuzmenko could not be more pumped for that. “Is a great time, great time, I like it,” he said. “She’s a seriously beautiful baby, the name’s Elisa … is good, have a little cry.”
He’s getting a taste of the fatherhood schedule too. “I sleep is very good. Before two minutes I get up. I listen. WAHHHHHHHHH. I think, oh buddy, come here.”
The winger has been full of praise for his teammates since he’s been in Vancouver, and that hasn’t changed with the start of training camp this season. “Elias [Pettersson] is a great centerman, I think is a best centerman in the league, my top,” Kuzmenko said when asked about lining up alongside Pettersson once again. “It’s very comfortable playing with Elias.”
He’s also been impressed with Nils Höglander, who stands to make the team’s top 9 with the departure of Tanner Pearson. In training camp, he’s been lined up alongside Pettersson and Kuzmenko to fill in for Ilya Mikheyev. “He is a good player. Very fast player. I like it.”
Kuzmenko is looking to help lead the Canucks to the postseason this year. But the thing he wants to see the most when he gets there? “For me, I think is my dream, I see the towels like in (EA Sports) NHL 24, 23 on the PS5,” he joked. “I want to see that situation, see the moment in playoffs.”
“I want, and I hope to [be in the] playoffs.”
The full Kuzmenko availability can be heard on the latest episode of the Canucks Conversation podcast, which is available wherever you get your podcasts!

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