Faber: Kuzmenko shines on and off the ice in my 6 takeaways from day two of Vancouver Canucks training camp
By Faber2 months ago
Time to look back at the day that was for the Vancouver Canucks’ day two of training camp.
Again, we take it all with a grain of salt as it’s just a training camp but there were certainly some noteworthy takeaways and we will document them here in the day two recap of Canucks training camp.
Let’s dive right in.
Quinn Hughes has a new partner and he’s a left-handed defenceman
Less than 24 hours after Rick Tocchet said that he would need to be convinced to put a left-handed defenceman alongside Quinn Hughes, we saw Carson Soucy get a chance to skate alongside the Canucks’ captain in the morning session.
I guess Soucy is pretty convincing.
Many of the drills in the morning session were with the idea of improving breakouts and also some drills about quick turnarounds in the neutral zone. The drills where a five-man unit was set up in the offensive zone gave Soucy a chance to have the one-timer from the right side of the blue line but there were certainly some difficult moves for Soucy to make when he was attempting a breakout. It just looked like he got caught on his backhand and had to make a full 360° turn to move the puck from his forehand. It almost felt like using a left-handed shortstop.
There are just a few spots on the ice where a lefty-lefty pairing could see some struggles but Soucy sure had the size and reach that you want to see from Hughes’ partner.
We were a bit surprised to see Soucy get a run with Hughes before Ian Cole but certainly liked the pairing in their defence during drills. Soucy has a really long reach and Hughes is so quick to attack. The duo looks to have some skills that could easily translate to being a solid pairing. This is a duo we want to see get a run in a preseason game.
Arshdeep Bains remains
On an NHL line.
Arshdeep Bains skated alongside Conor Garland and Pius Suter for a second straight day at Canucks training camp. Now, you could make the argument that Bains is simply being used as a placeholder while we await Ilya Mikheyev’s return from his leave from the team due to ‘personal reasons’. Bains is certainly seizing the opportunity and you could see a lot of communication from the youngster as he looked to be in the right place for drills and blend in with the NHL talent.
For the most part, Bains looks like an NHLer while he has been skating alongside Suter and Garland. He may not be on this line for a long time but he is showing well in the time that he is playing with NHLers.
Filip Hronek and Ian Cole as a pairing
Some people asked about Filip Hronek and who he was paired up with.
We completely missed this yesterday but on day two, he was skating with Ian Cole.
We thought that Hronek looked light on his feet as it’s clear he is a great skater who can make any pass from the defensive or natural zones. Cole has been tough throughout the two days — bringing that old veteran tough guy presence to practice and has consistently been one of the players who is finishing all of their hits and playing tough defence in every drill.
Andrei Kuzmenko is in great shape and still has a solid tan
We’ve loved the pop in Andrei Kuzmenko’s shot and stride through the first two days of training camp. He clearly worked hard this offseason and it’s showing with how good he looks through two days of camp.
Kuzmenko was asked if he had any follow-up goals for himself after potting 39 goals last season. He spoke more about the team and how he needed to improve on the weaker parts of his game.
The guy was rocking a solid tan from his offseason and spoke about being in much better shape for this year’s training camp. He also mentioned that he is already booked for next offseason in Bali. So, he’s doing it all over again.
As for the on-ice stuff, Kuzmenko is looking really good with the puck on his stick. He’s moving with a noticeable increase in his pace and his shot still remains quick, accurate and dangerous from any part of the ice. He also spoke about Elias Pettersson being the best centre in the league in his own opinion. Kuzmenko was electric with the media as he always is and his full media availability can be found on the latest episode of the Canucks Conversation podcast.
Kirill Kudryavtsev and Vilmer Alriksson get the call to the main group
After skating with group C at an alternate location on day one, big Swedish winger Vilmer Alriksson and well-rounded Russian defenceman Kirill Kudryavtsev were up with the big boys on day two.
Each of these guys will be returning to the OHL for the 2023-24 season but this opportunity to skate with NHLers is a great learning experience for the teenagers.
Alriksson skated on a line with Jack Studnicka and Sheldon Dries while Kudryavtsev was playing the right side and paired up with Sawyer Mynio.
Kudryavtsev was the more impressive of the two who got a call-up. He just seems to have such confidence and poise with the puck on his stick and we thought he used space to his advantage while defending — closing in on NHL players and forcing tough passes through sticks in many of the drills. Day two was a good showing for Kudryavtsev, who may be playing in the AHL near the conclusion of the season. Kudryavtsev signed an entry-level contract with the Canucks and is now eligible to play in either the NHL or AHL.
The two players who were sent down to group C to skate at an alternate site were Abbotsford Captain Chase Wouters and 2023 third-round pick Hunter Brzustewicz.
Vasily Podkolzin has found a new babysitter
Vasily Podkolzin made a joke about Andrei Kuzmenko being a babysitter for his new child but Kuzmenko pushed back and told a story about as soon as the baby started crying, he went screaming for Momma and Papa Podkolzin. The audio is absolutely hilarious as Kuzmenko imitated the baby’s noise.
You can find the full media availability on the latest episode of Canucks Convo, as we mentioned earlier.
We aren’t so sure Kuzmenko is going to be having a kid of his own anytime soon but he sure sounds like a fun uncle.
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