Photo credit:© Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
Scenes from morning skate: Andrei Kuzmenko’s Canucks teammates react to his contract extension
1 year ago
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Fresh off the heels of signing Andrei Kuzmenko to a two-year contract extension worth $5.5. million annually, the Vancouver Canucks hit the ice this morning as they get set to square off with the Columbus Blue Jackets this evening.
Here’s what went down at morning skate ahead of tonight’s tilt between the two bottomfeeders.
What we saw
You’ve already read about the Lane Pederson situation, and if you haven’t, you can read about it in full here. To summarize, Pederson was placed on waivers this morning, moments after skating on the first line with Elias Pettersson and Andrei Kuzmenko at morning skate. People have quickly pointed out that Pederson can still play tonight while on waivers, and will get plenty of ice time in Abbotsford if he clears.
As for the rest of the lineup, Tocchet is sticking with JT Miller at centre, and that’s a good idea as far as we’re concerned. The Canucks need Miller to be a consistent top six centre for years to come, and the only way he’s going to do that is if he gets consistent reps at centre and builds comfort at the position.
Ilya MIkheyev, Bo Horvat, and Brock Boeser unite to form the Canucks’ second line, and it will be interesting to see if Pederson remains the winger on Pettersson’s line, or if there’s a shuffle in the lines for this evening’s game.
It appears as though Riley Stillman will slot into the lineup alongside Tyler Myers, with Travis Dermott, Kyle Burroughs, and Phil Di Giuseppe serving as tonight’s healthy scratches.
What was said
The big news since the last time we spoke to Canucks players was the aforementioned Andrei Kuzmenko extension, which came down yesterday.
“He’s a very skilled guy,” said head coach Rick Tocchet of Kuzmenko. “He can score. We’re excited that we have him. There’s work to do with him to be a complete player, but one thing is he can score and we’re excited about that.
“Around the net he’s a bull. Obviously he’s a talented guy but the couple of goals he scored in Chicago are the goals that you want. The give-and-go game with Petey — that was a hell of a goal. But we got to work on his defence. We got to work on some habits and we have some good coaches to work with him to be a complete player. But definitely on that end, excited.”
“Yeah, I couldn’t be happier for him. He deserves it,” said captain Bo Horvat. “He’s played unbelievable for us this year and he’s obviously produced a lot and brings a lot of energy to the crowd when he scores. He’s been a fan favourite ever since he got here. He’s a great person and to have his family here during it all I think is pretty special to him. Happy to have him for two more years.”
“He deserves it, he’s been playing good this year,” said Elias Pettersson, Kuzmenko’s most consistent linemate. “He’s very offensively talented, he’s got a lot of skills, makes plays, and obviously we thrive off of each other.”
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