In the spring of 2017, just after the Vancouver Canucks finished a disappointing season at 30-43-9 and had fired their head coach Willie Desjardins. The team had plenty to be excited about though, as they’d flipped some assets at the deadline for young forwards Nikolay Goldobin and Jonathan Dahlen while signing Brock Boeser out of the college ranks and seeing him excel right away. The team also had three young talents on defense that were showing promise, in Troy Stecher, Ben Hutton and Nikita Tryamkin. Unfortunately, the latter decided to return to Russia and the KHL after his first full NHL season and has been there ever since.
Now 24, Tryamkin is in the midst of his second season with his hometown Yekaterinburg since returning to the KHL, and is continuing his development. After averaging more than 21 minutes a night last season, his numbers have dropped to a still-repsectible 19 minutes on average. The massive 6’7″ defenseman has just three points on the season, but is still a very interesting player for the Canucks to keep an eye on. Though Tryamkin is signed until 2020 in the KHL, Vancouver GM Jim Benning told Sportsnet radio this morning that they are still hoping he returns to North America at some point and “have not closed that door.”
The Canucks are a team on the rise now, and may be even more attractive to a player like Tryamkin in the 2020-21 season. By then, Chris Tanev, Michael Del Zotto and Alexander Edler will have already reached unrestricted free agency and may not be around, while the team should be very competitive in the Western Conference. The team does still have young defensemen Olli Juolevi and Quinn Hughes on the way, but there will still likely be room for the hulking Russian somewhere on the blue line. Tryamkin’s size and skating ability make him a unique type of player, one that could balance out what should be a very skilled defense corps in a few years.