Canucks President Opens Up On Kuzmenko Rumors

From 39 goals down to fourth-line minutes. It's been quite the precipitous drop for Vancouver Canucks forward Andrei Kuzmenko in his second NHL season. And teams around the league have been circling like vultures, as insider Elliotte Friedman reported this weekend that calls have been coming in on the 27-year-old.

But team president Jim Rutherford isn't being committal on which way he'll go with the struggling forward just yet, as Iain MacIntyre of Sportsnet reports on Monday. 

"We'll keep an open mind," said Rutherford. "I don't want to just lock ourselves into one answer. But we need to continue to try to help him.

"I believe in the staff we have and they will continue to work with him. He's a good player. He is a capable player. Is he a guy that's going to score 40 goals again? Maybe not. But certainly, the way he plays, you should be able to project him at 25.”

So while a trade might not be imminent, Rutherford doesn't appear to be ruling it out either.

Kuzmenko's efforts this year have earned him a couple of healthy scratches, and his time on ice per game is down to the 14-minute range or less. He has just one goal in his last 15 games, and overall has lit the lamp just four times in 25 games. Last year, he recorded 74 points in 81 games in his rookie campaign. 

He's on a two-year, $5.5M AAV contract that runs through next season. A trade would be difficult, as the Canucks would need to retain a chunk of that change. But that, apparently, isn't stopping other teams from poking around.

Photo: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports