The Vancouver Canucks gave their presentation to Russian free agent Andrey Kuzmenko on Friday, and the moderately to highly coveted winger hung around Vancouver when it was over.
Kuzmenko’s agent Dan Milstein tweeted out a photo Friday evening of himself, Gold Star Sports agency associate Vlad Spektor and Kuzmenko on the roof of a building above Rogers Arena.
— Dan Milstein-Hockey (@HockeyAgent1) June 18, 2022
Two hours after throwing out the question on his tweet “Where should Andrey Kuzmenko play next year and why?”, Milstein had received more than 200 responses, with the first sixteen on the VHN timeline coming from Vancouver Canucks fans.
Some referred back to the “Russian Rocket” Pavel Bure and his days in Vancouver, others pumped the fanbase, while more than a few pointed to the beautiful aesthetic qualities of the city. Edmonton Oilers and Vegas Golden Knights fans were active as well.
After meeting management, coaches, and staff, getting tours, gifts and meals in a variety of places, it now comes down to Kuzmenko’s choice of cities, rinks, teammates and potential linemates. The list of actual factors runs much deeper than that.
Milstein downplayed those extracurriculars when speaking with Vancouver Hockey Now in May: “He doesn’t care about the weather, like the cold in Edmonton, or the taxes in Vancouver, he’s only concerned about the team and the hockey. He worked at it and took his game to the next level.”
The flip side of course is the player’s value to a team; just how well will Kuzmenko’s game translate to the NHL.
The 26-year-old, who finished second in overall scoring in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) this past season playing for SKA St. Petersburg, doesn’t come with any guarantees in terms of upside. Add to that the adjustment of playing in a new culture, with a new rink size, and different systems and language.
On the latter, Milstein told VHN last month that Kuzmenko has been diligent with his English lessons in preparation for his move to North America and can carry on a conversation in his new language.
As for monetary value, at least for salary cap purposes, the player will receive a one-year entry-level deal for around one million US dollars. That limited price tag is what’s so enticing to so many, without having to give up anyone in return.
It’s an inexpensive one season “try-out” essentially, for a player who should be in his prime with a tremendous amount of potential.
Thus the courtship.
Milstein texted they should have an answer in a week or less.