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Is Canucks’ Andrei Kuzmenko Playing Himself Out of Vancouver?

Andrei Kuzmenko is having a great season for the Vancouver Canucks. Is he playing so well he’s become trade bait?

Rick Dhaliwal is reporting that agent Dan Milstein and his client, forward Andrei Kuzmenko aren’t sure what the winger will be worth on his next contract. What they do know is that he’s playing his way into a very nice contract. While most eyes are on Bo Horvat’s contract situation in Vancouver, Kuzmenko has quietly gotten off to a fantastic start this season, leading all rookies in points. He’s built great chemistry with his two linemates (Elias Pettersson and Ilya Mikheyev) and he’s on pace for a 40-goal season.

The question now might be, is he playing so well that he’s playing himself out of a contract the Canucks can afford?

The pending UFA is in an interesting situation with the Canucks. He’s making $950K on a deal that he’s outplaying in a major way. He’ll have the option to seek out the best deal this summer and while there’s already been talk he’ll want to stay in Vancouver and he loves playing with Pettersson, if he’s going to be offered big money by another team, can the Canucks really afford him?

Andrei Kuzmenko Canucks

Kuzmenko’s agent noted, “No clue to be honest when it comes to a number. Just proud of him. It’s been a long road to get him to NHL. Andrei deserves every bit of it through hard work and dedication.” That kind of comment seems to suggest that the player and his agent know opportunities to cash in big don’t come around all that often. It might be their mentality to see what the market is offering before committing long-term to the Canucks, a team that has waited on signing other players and things are still very much in limbo when it comes to Horvat.

Could the Canucks Get an Offer Too Good to Pass Up?

All the while, teams will be calling Vancouver and offering a nice package of prospects and picks for Kuzmenko before the deadline, especially if they feel he’s open to signing long-term. As a rental, he’s ideal at his price tag and if the Canucks are rebuilding, Kuzmenko at 26 isn’t a young player.

There’s also a bit of a risk in giving him big money one year after his first season in the NHL. Were he to sign an eight-year deal, he’s old enough now that some of those years risk coming as his production starts to decrease. That he’s got no history in the league might also be a concern for Vancouver and if there’s any doubt that he’ll repeat this performance, they might want to sell high on the player.

The Canucks aren’t exactly swimming in cash after giving Miller and Quinn Hughes huge deals. They also have to decide on what’s next for Horvat. Can they afford everyone? If they want to undergo a successful rebuild the Canucks will need to trade players. But, is Andrei Kuzmenko the one exception the team should try to hold onto?

Next: Exactly One Year Ago, Maple Leafs’ Matt Murray Cleared Waivers

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