As the Vancouver Canucks try to work through what is likely to be a Bo Horvat trade before the NHL Trade Deadline, internally, they have another big decision to make. Do they retain or sign Andrei Kuzmenko? Chris Johnston of TSN reported during the Insider Trading segment on Tuesday that the team has made inking a new deal with the forward a priority, but another NHL insider in Frank Seravalli wonders if the Canucks would be better off trading the player and capitalizing on his value along, all while staying true to their rebuild plans.
The TSN panel discussed Jim Rutherford’s press conference to talk the state of the Canucks organization and noted, “Another thing that came out of Jim Rutherford’s Monday press conference was the fact that it’s a high priority for the Canucks to find a way to re-sign Andrei Kuzmenko, a pending unrestricted free agent.” He added that he’s told there’s still a lot of work to be done on that front and that Kuzmenko’s agent, Dan Milstein, met with the Canucks in Florida last week. He notes, “But I’m told, at that point, there were no numbers exchanged or discussed.”
Seravalli, meanwhile, took a look at what Kuzmenko might cost the Canucks on a new deal and offered Andre Burakovsky (5 years x $5.5 million), Josh Bailey (6 years x $5 million), Valeri Nichushkin (8 years x $6.125 million) as comparables. The have about one month to figure out the terms of a new deal because should they not find a happy meeting ground, they’ll certainly want to explore a trade before the March 3 NHL Trade Deadline.
Would a Trade Offer the Best Return for Kuzmenko?
Seravalli added, “For the most part, Kuzmenko’s exact situation is unprecedented in the NHL’s salary cap era.” He adds, “Teams will be leery of significant term based on one season on his resume, but if they are willing to commit…” He wonders if the Canucks would consider trading in the player.
He doesn’t technically fit their age scheme in remaking the roster and if you are a believer in age charts, he has already passed through his prime. The Canucks took a chance, won the Kuzmenko sweepstakes and have been rewarded for their scouting in a strong season. They’re playing now with house money. Perhaps they’re better off seizing on Kuzmenko’s trade value as a cheap expiring contract, rather than adding another expensive contract to the books for years to come for a scoring winger who does not drive play on his own.
Next: Jim Rutherford Recap: Boudreau, Pearson, Horvat, Tough Season
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