Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Report: Teams still interested in scratched Canucks forward Andrei Kumzenko
By Mike Gould1 month ago
The Andrei Kuzmenko saga just continues to drag on in Vancouver. The 27-year-old forward was made a healthy scratch yet again, this time in favour of Linus Karlsson, in the Canucks’ 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.
Kuzmenko has eight goals and 19 points in 32 games this season. He simply hasn’t been able to lock down a consistent role under head coach Rick Tocchet, who wants Kuzmenko to be more responsible and stronger on the forecheck.
The Canucks have Kuzmenko under contract for this year and next at a $5.5 million cap hit, which looked very reasonable when he scored 39 goals last season. Now, it’s a bit of a problem for a Canucks team that needs to sign Elias Pettersson and Filip Hronek to contract extensions.
Vancouver hockey insider Rick Dhaliwal dished on Kuzmenko’s situation with Don Taylor during Friday’s episode of Donnie & Dhali – The Team on CHEK TV.
“Here’s my thoughts on Kuzmenko. It’s not in a good place. It’s not. Something’s gotta give here,” Dhaliwal said. “Rick Tocchet has worked extremely hard with Kuzmenko, trying to get him to buy in and play the right way. They had a one-on-one meeting in the third week of December on the road, I think it was in Dallas.
“So, where does this end up? The trade deadline’s approaching and teams are still calling on Kuzmenko. I can tell you right now, today, folks, there is interest in Andrei Kuzmenko, still, the player. There are teams still calling. But you nailed it, how do you move his salary of $5.5 million, and the guy’s got no confidence? It’s easier said than done. The Canucks have a great relationship with Kuzmenko’s agent, Dan Milstein.”
The Canucks have already made six trades since the start of their 2023 training camp, the most recent one being the Nick Cicek/Jack Studnicka deal with the San Jose Sharks. Trading Kuzmenko would certainly qualify as a much more consequential move.
With or without Kuzmenko in the lineup, the Canucks will return to action on Saturday afternoon to take on the New Jersey Devils at 4:00 p.m. PT.
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