When Patrik Allvin took over as general manager of the Vancouver Canucks, he promised that they would be looking at college and international free agents in order to beef up the depth of the organization. That’s what he’d learned in Pittsburgh, after all, where the Penguins routinely signed undrafted talent from the college ranks to try and squeeze out some inexpensive NHL minutes.
A promise is a promise, and the Canucks have already started to show interest in a player from overseas. Rick Dhaliwal of CHEK TV reports that the Canucks are one of the teams to have contacted the representatives of Andrei Kuzmenko. The 26-year-old forward has been chased by NHL teams for years, going back to 2018 after his breakout KHL season. Instead of coming over then, he has spent the last four seasons with the powerhouse SKA St. Petersburg program, growing as an offensive force in the process.
This season, Kuzmenko scored 53 points in 45 games, good for second overall in league scoring behind short-time NHLer Vadim Shipachyov. The difference is that while Shipachyov and third-place Corban Knight both played more than 20 minutes a game, the SKA star averaged under 17. With the KHL season complete and the league moving directly into the playoffs, there is still work to be done for Kuzmenko. St. Petersburg went 31-11-6 on the season and locked up first place in the KHL western conference, meaning they’re set to chase a long postseason run and a chance at the Gagarin Cup. He won’t be available to sign until after that run finishes if he comes over at all.
Of course, Vancouver could have an ace up its sleeve. Vasily Podkolzin, the tenth-overall pick from 2019, was a teammate of Kuzmenko for several years before coming to North America this season. Perhaps Allvin will be able to begin his task of adding depth to the organization by reuniting the two, though a decision still isn’t expected for a while.