NHL Notebook: Vancouver Canucks re-sign Andrei Kuzmenko, Arizona Coyotes lose Shayne Gostisbehere to injury and more

Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 year ago
The Vancouver Canucks re-signed Andrei Kuzmenko to a two-year contract extension paying him an AAV of $5.5-million.
Signed by the team to a one-year, entry-level contract this past offseason, Kuzmenko has been a tremendous addition to the Canucks lineup. In 47 games this year, he’s scored 21 goals and 43 points gelling with Elias Pettersson as the pair have played up and down the lineup.
Now, the Canucks will keep him around for two more years. But for a team that should be vying for Connor Bedard, the re-signing of Kuzmenko shows fans can’t take the Canucks’ plans for a rebuild seriously, writes Daily Faceoff’s Matt Larkin:
Everything about Andrei Kuzmenko’s two-year extension signed Thursday, carrying a $5.5 million AAV, contradicts the philosophizing Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford offered up less than two weeks ago, when he admitted the roster needed “major surgery” and that “between now and the start of next season, we’re going to have to make some changes.”
Instead, just days after replacing coach Bruce Boudreau with Rick Tocchet, supposedly signalling the beginning of a franchise teardown, the Canucks lock up one of their best trade assets during a moment that very well could go down as the peak of his value. Don’t forget about that shooting percentage.
The point here isn’t to knock Kuzmenko, of course. He’s been a revelation, one of the few 2022-23 success stories in Vancouver, forging real chemistry with center Elias Petterssson. As our own Frank Seravalli indicated in this deep-dive profile on Kuzmenko’s contract situation last week, he has emerged as one of the better net-front scorers in the league. In scoring $11 million over the next two years, Kuzmenko and agent Dan Milstein have accomplished two impressive things. For one, the contract secures life-changing money before a major statistical regression can kick in for a player who, to echo Seravalli’s analysis, is more of an opportunistic finisher than a play-driving puck transporter. Secondly, at just two years, Kuzmenko is also betting on himself to produce at a high level for a couple more seasons, then reach unrestricted free agency while still in his 20s. At that point, if he’s proven himself to be a steady scoring forward across three NHL seasons, he’ll secure a lucrative long-term pact.
So, yes, pop the bubbly, Mr. Kuzmenko. We salute you. As for the Canucks? The team brass asserted earlier this season that it wanted to focus on acquiring players 26 and younger as the next stage of its retool/rebuild/whatever you want to call this monstrosity. Extending Kuzemko nine days before his 27th birthday almost feels like self parody.
You can read more of Larkin’s thoughts on Daily Faceoff.

Gostisbehere out for over a month

One of the Arizona Coyotes’ top trade chips is out for over a month after sustaining an upper-body injury.
Gostisbehere was injured in Tuesday’s loss to the Anaheim Ducks and is expected to keep him out of the lineup for four to six weeks. March 3rd’s trade deadline is fast approaching just five and a half weeks away.
Here’s some of what Daily Faceoff’s Naftali Clinton wrote about the player, and the injury:
The 29-year-old is one that will be heavily sought after near the deadline. He is an effective point producer and has been able to put up points no matter what team he’s been on. Over the last two seasons, he’s played 130 games for the rebuilding Coyotes, scoring 23 goals and 80 points.
It will be imperative for him to become healthy before the deadline because he is one of the biggest trade chips in Arizona. The Coyotes might also trade defenseman Jakob Chychrun, forwards Nick Bjugstad, Travis Boyd, Nick Ritchie, and maybe even goalie Karel Vejmelka if the offer is right.
This injury is a letdown for Arizona, because the next month would have been a perfect opportunity for Gostisbehere to showcase himself while teams are hungry to make moves. That’s not going to happen now, but at least the first half of the season was promising enough for the blueliner.

Wild scratch Hartman for penalty woes

The Minnesota Wild have scratched Ryan Hartman for a Thursday night game after the rugged forward has found himself in the penalty box far too often.
Wild head coach Dean Evason announced the move would be made during a radio hit citing Hartman’s “propensity of penalties” in recent games. Over the last three games, Hartman has taken 21 PIM over his last three games.
Last Thursday against the Carolina Hurricanes, he took a 10-minute misconduct call before racking up seven PIM against the Florida Panthers on Saturday. Those came from a fighting major and two minutes for roughing. Against the Tampa Bay Lightning Monday, he took two minor penalties — one for interference and one for hooking.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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