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We’ll see about Andrei

So, Russian forward Andrei Kuzmenko agreed Monday to sign with the Vancouver Canucks when free agency opens July 13.

At $925,000 for one season, the price seems right for Kuzmenko, who is represented by agent Daniel Milstein. They talked to a handful of teams including the Edmonton Oilers.

Kuzmenko, 26, might turn out to be a find for the Canucks, but there’s nothing about him, including the 20-33-53 he tallied in 45 games with SKA St. Petersburg this season, that tells me he’s a slam-dunk worthy of the top-six minutes and power play time he and Milstein were asking for. Outside of some YouTube clips and his numbers, I don’t know much about the player – certainly not as much as Vancouver GM Patrik Allvin.

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“I have been watching Andrei since his 2014-15 season and have been impressed with his development and improvement on the ice,” Allvin said. “Once the contract details are finalized, we look forward to welcoming him to the Canucks organization and helping him continue to grow as a hockey player.”

If there’s anything I’ve learned over the years, it’s to take KHL stats with a grain of salt. Big numbers over there don’t necessarily translate to big numbers over here. While Kuzmenko was second in KHL scoring, his 53 points are well short of the totals put up by some former Oilers who had modest results in the NHL.

LOST IN TRANSLATION?

Remember Patrick Thoresen? He had 65 points in 2010-11 with Gagarin Cup champion Salavat Yulaev. Thoresen had 19 points in 85 games over parts of two seasons with the Oilers 2006-08 and he also got into 21 games with the Philadelphia Flyers. There’s Teemu Hartikainen, who put up 64 points with Salavat Yulaev in 2020-21. In 52 games over parts of three seasons with the Oilers, Harski tallied 6-7-13. And who can forget Linus Omark? Omark had 57 points with Salavat Yulaev in 2015-16. In 66 games with the Oilers over parts of three seasons, Omark had 8-22-30.

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None of the numbers above represent a definitive prediction of how Kuzmenko will perform for the Canucks next season. Omark and Thoresen were 23 when they broke in with the Oilers and Hartikainen was just 20. Kuzmenko is right in his prime years now, having already played eight seasons in the KHL.

“We would like to thank all the teams that we met with for their time and interest,” said Milstein, who has an impressive array of top-end clients that includes Nikita Kucherov, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Oilers’ UFA Evander Kane.

“We were impressed by what the Canucks organization wants to accomplish and the winning culture they are building. Andrei felt a good connection with the management team and is looking forward to playing for Bruce Boudreau.”

THE BOTTOM LINE

While Kuzmenko might have been an interesting addition here with Kane on his way to the UFA market, that’s a moot point. Still, I’ll keep an eye on what as he does in Vancouver, as I’m sure many of you will. Which way it’ll go, we’ll find out soon enough.

As expected, GM Ken Holland and coach Jay Woodcroft put the final touches on a three-year contract that was announced this morning. I expect that we’ll get word on a new contact for assistant coach Dave Manson as some point today as well.

Previously by Robin Brownlee