Where’s that instruction handbook? Ah, discovered it:

How to not carry out main surgical procedure in your NHL roster.


1. Sign promising KHL star to cost-efficient contract on an AAV capped at an entry-level determine.

2. Marvel as he delivers on his potential in his debut NHL season, producing at a 75-point clip whereas buzzing together with a hilariously unsustainable taking pictures share of 24.7.

3. Having simply fired your coach and teetering on the sting of true lottery rivalry throughout essentially the most thrilling NHL Draft yr since 2015, choose to not unload this expiring asset who, at 26, is theoretically on the peak of his bodily prime.

4. Sign that participant, who has half of 1 nice NHL season underneath his belt, to a two-year contract paying him till he’s 29 years outdated.

So, yeah. 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 wanted “major surgery” and that “between now and the start of next season, we’re going to have to make some changes.”

Instead, simply days after changing coach Bruce Boudreau with Rick Tocchet, supposedly signaling the start of a franchise teardown, the Canucks lock up considered one of their finest commerce property throughout a second that very nicely may go down as the height of his worth. Don’t overlook about that taking pictures share.

The level right here isn’t to knock Kuzmenko, after all. He’s been a revelation, one of many few 2022-23 success tales in Vancouver, forging actual chemistry with middle Elias Pettersson. As our personal Frank Seravalli indicated in this deep-dive profile on Kuzmenko’s contract situation final week, he has emerged as one of many higher net-front scorers within the league. In scoring $11 million over the subsequent two years, Kuzmenko and agent Dan Milstein have achieved two spectacular issues. For one, the contract secures life-changing cash earlier than a significant statistical regression can kick in for a participant who, to echo Seravalli’s evaluation, is extra of an opportunistic finisher than a play-driving puck transporter. Secondly, at simply two years, Kuzmenko can be betting on himself to provide at a excessive stage for a few extra seasons, then attain unrestricted free company whereas nonetheless in his 20s. At that time, if he’s confirmed himself to be a gentle scoring ahead throughout three NHL seasons, he’ll safe a profitable long-term pact.

So, sure, pop the bubbly, Mr. Kuzmenko. We salute you. As for the Canucks? The crew brass asserted earlier this season that it wished to concentrate on buying gamers 26 and youthful as the subsequent stage of its retool/rebuild/no matter you wish to name this monstrosity. Extending Kuzmenko 9 days earlier than his 27th birthday nearly appears like self parody.

Including Kuzmenko, the Canucks now have the next gamers dedicated by no less than 2024-25 who shall be 27 or older beginning subsequent season:

  • J.T. Miller, $8 million x 7 extra years
  • Oliver-Ekman Larsson, $7.26 million x 4 extra years
  • Andrei Kuzmenko, $5.5 million x 2 extra years
  • Thatcher Demko, $5 million x 3 extra years
  • Conor Garland, $4.95 million x 3 extra years
  • Ilya Mikheyev, $4.75 million x 3 extra years
  • Tucker Poolman, $2.5 million x 2 extra years
  • Curtis Lazar, $1 million x 2 extra years

The crew supposedly decided to make main modifications has $38,960,000 dedicated to gamers aged 27 and up for a number of seasons after this one.

Not all these issues had been of the present regime’s making, after all. The Ekman-Larsson/Garland acquisitions belonged to earlier GM Jim Benning. But the Miller deal, which is one way or the other taking over water earlier than it even kicks in subsequent season, already seems to be like an unforced error from Rutherford and GM Patrik Allvin. And extending Kuzmenko relatively than exploring the thought of a commerce simply additional solidifies an older, still-trying-to-win-now id.

It’s thus troublesome to take severely any thought of the Canucks really committing to scorching the Earth in hopes of remaking their id. What’s subsequent: Pivoting to re-sign captain Bo Horvat? I’m half-joking right here. But with the Canucks sitting 14 factors out of playoff spot and holding the sixth-best NHL Draft lottery odds, the precedence ought to be, if not shifting the true core items, then stripping away the precious secondary elements to concurrently safe long-term property and make profitable conveniently troublesome within the current. Trading Horvat for a king’s ransom throughout his profession yr is a very powerful merchandise on Vancouver’s to-do listing between now and March 3, however Rutherford and Allvin ought to have thought of promoting off a chunk as precious as Kuzmenko. Instead, they re-sign a participant who is likely to be previous his prime by the point this crew turns into aggressive once more.

Until the Canucks cease making these impulsive, win-now selections, will probably be powerful to imagine they really wish to begin over — regardless of a educated and passionate fan base that might be dedicated to doing so.

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