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Canucks prospect report: Vancouver could soon be the next stop for Nikita Tryamkin

The towering 21-year-old defenceman and 2014 third-round pick is coming off his most productive season in the KHL

Yekaterinburg's Nikita Tryamkin, left, vies for the puck with Team Canada's Cory Conacher during a game between Yekaterinburg and Team Canada at the 89th Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland on Dec. 26, 2015.

Melanie Duchene/Keystone via AP

Yekaterinburg's Nikita Tryamkin, left, vies for the puck with Team Canada's Cory Conacher during a game between Yekaterinburg and Team Canada at the 89th Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland on Dec. 26, 2015.

Now that Nikita Tryamkin’s KHL season is over, his next stop in the hockey landscape could be in Vancouver.

Depending on which hockey website you click on, Tryamkin is listed between six-foot-six-inches and six-foot-eight-inches tall and between 220 and 235 pounds. He’s big, a towering presence on the blue line and the Canucks are in the process of trying to get him signed to an entry-level contract, with his existing deal in with Yekaterinburg Avtomobilist set to expire later this spring.

The Canucks drafted Tryamkin in the third round, 66th overall, in 2014.

Jim Benning, prior to getting hired in Vancouver, scouted Tryamkin while he played for Russia at the World Juniors that year.

Several months later, having taken the GM job with the Canucks, Benning made it a point to select Tryamkin as the fourth pick for Vancouver’s draft class that year.

The Canucks are now in a rebuild. Prior to Thursday’s home tilt with the San Jose Sharks, they had 20 games remaining on their schedule to further evaluate some of their prospects in an NHL environment.

As they try to sign the 21-year-old Tryamkin, management is faced with at least three issues, according to Benning.

His contract in the KHL doesn’t expire until April 30, so there is a task of figuring out how Tryamkin can get out of that existing deal before he can sign in Vancouver.

There is a precedent for a player getting out of their KHL contract.

Based on reports out of Pittsburgh last summer, Sergei Plotnikov paid $500,000 to terminate his deal in the KHL in order to sign with the Penguins. It’s unknown if Tryamkin and his representatives would view that as a viable option, if it’s available.

When it comes to cap space – the Canucks had $2.14 million available as of Thursday, according to General Fanager – Benning said the organization should have a better idea of that next week when they get updated medical reports on injured defenceman Alex Edler (broken fibula) and Brandon Sutter (broken jaw, and currently on the long-term injured reserve).

Once a deal is signed, Tryamkin’s immigration documents would then need to be figured out.

Provided that all goes according to plan and the Canucks can get him under contract before the end of this season, Tryamkin would then report to Vancouver to join the NHL club.

Benning said it’s too early in this process to tell if Tryamkin would accept – or object – being reassigned to the AHL next season.

Tryamkin is coming off his most productive season as a KHL defenceman.

He finished fourth among Avtomobilist defencemen with a career-best 11 points in 53 regular season games and was tied for second with four goals – all of them coming at even strength. He also led his fellow Yekaterinburg blue liners with 84 hits.  

“He’s unique because of his size,” said Benning in a phone interview.

“He’s coordinated and he’s a very good skater. Because at (six-foot-eight-inches), you have that long reach, he can defend. He’s got a big wing span to defend and when he gets the puck, he can make a good first pass and get it going the other way.”

Benning has Tryamkin developing into a stay-at-home defenceman, but one that is capable of transitioning the puck.

And with his massive frame comes a booming shot.

“Sometimes he doesn’t always know where it’s going,” said Benning, with a chuckle. “But he’s got a heavy, hard shot.”

If the Canucks can get Tryamkin into Vancouver for some NHL experience this spring, they would have as many as five left-shooting defenceman on the roster. That’s not including the injured Edler or prospect Andrey Pedan in Utica.

Next season, the situation on defence remains one to watch.

Even if the Canucks don’t re-sign pending unrestricted free agents Dan Hamhuis or Matt Bartkowski, there’s still the possibility of five defencemen with left shots on the roster, if Tryamkin and Pedan remain with the big club.

The caveat is that Tryamkin can play both sides, said Benning.

In fact, every time Benning scouted Tryamkin, he was playing on his right side despite a left shot, said the GM.

 

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