Canucks Rumors: Kuzmenko Linked To Unexpected Team

It's been a disastrous second season in the NHL for Andrei Kuzmenko of the Vancouver Canucks. Following his 39-goal rookie season last year, the 27-year-old Russian has just 8 goals and 21 points in 43 games. His name has been mentioned in the rumor mill for a couple of months now, and if the Canucks are ready to give up on him, the latest word has an unexpected "buyer" waiting to pounce.

According to NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman, he says that the rebuilding Chicago Blackhawks, who will be sellers at the deadline, would be ready to take a shot at buying on Kuzmenko.

The reason I name Chicago is that they really need some scoring... If you look at them, they're looking for players who don't have a lot of term... Kuzmenko can score — he's struggled this year, but he can score — and he only has one year left (on his contract).

Kuzmenko signed a 2-year, $11 million deal with the Canucks, and has a $5.5M cap hit. And while the Hawks have signed a few players recently to extensions, they're all only for two years. 

The other key factor contributing to a Vancouver/Chicago trade is the fact that they've already gotten together this year on one deal, as the Canucks traded forward Anthony Beauvillier to the Blackhawks at the end of November for a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft. As Friedman notes, the Canucks "have already proven you can do trades with them."

The Hawks, of course, are struggling mightily to score, especially with Connor Bedard out, and he isn't expected back for at least another five weeks.

Chicago has scored just 2.1 goals per game, the worst number in the NHL, fractions of a percentage below the San Jose Sharks. 

"I think Kuzmenko is a player that should be on Chicago’s radar," reiterated Frideman, "(and) I've got a couple people who say... Chicago has looked into the possibility of it. We’ll see if it goes anywhere but there’s a lot of circumstantial evidence but it makes a lot of sense for both the Blackhawks and the Canucks."

Photo: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports