The Vancouver Canucks signed winger Andrei Kuzmenko to a two-year, $11-million contract extension, the team announced on Thursday.
Vancouver Canucks General Manager Patrik Allvin announced today that the club has agreed to terms with forward Andrei Kuzmenko on a two-year extension with an average annual value of $5.5 million. pic.twitter.com/1hs6WHsaLz
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) January 26, 2023
The contract, which carries a $5.5 million annual cap hit, also contains a 12-team no-trade clause, according to NHL insider Elliotte Friedman.
Kuzmenko has been a rare bright spot in Vancouver this season, registering 21 goals and 43 points in 47 games and establishing excellent chemistry with star centre Elias Pettersson.
The 26-year-old joined the Canucks from the KHL, where he played for eight years — splitting his tenure evenly between CSKA Moscow and St. Petersburg SKA. With excellent skating and a knack for finding the right position, Kuzmenko registered 85 goals and 200 points in 318 games in Russia. After finishing second in scoring last season, Kuzmenko had a number of suitors looking to sign him in the offseason.
— Dan Milstein-Hockey (@HockeyAgent1) January 26, 2023
Kuzmenko quickly dispelled any notion that his game could not translate to a smaller ice surface, hitting the ground running and currently sitting third in points for Vancouver. It is now clear why former head coach Bruce Boudreau and general manager Patrik Allvin drove six and four hours respectively to meet with Kuzmenko, who seems to love life in Vancouver.
“He has really continued to grow,” said Boudreau following a 4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche where Kuzmenko scored twice. “I think he's really a part of it. I mean, you could see on the second goal his excitement. He's really invested in the same way everybody else was. His improvement from the beginning [of the season] to now, it was great.”
Despite his strong first season, it has not helped the Canucks make any progress toward the postseason. Currently sitting sixth in the Pacific Division with a record of 19-26-3 and just two playoff-round wins since their Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2011, a full-blown rebuild might be in order for the Vancouver front office despite president Jim Rutherford saying the team prefers to "retool." With Pettersson's deal expiring after next season, the Canucks need to have some players to build around moving forward, and Kuzmenko fits that window.
The Canucks will host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night before heading out on a four-game east coast road trip.
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