A week ago we put the names of three Vancouver Canucks out there as players to watch at camp; Andrei Kuzmenko, Quinn Hughes, and Linus Karlsson.
A week later, we check in.
Call him Koozy, not Kooz, as to not confuse him with local hockey writer Ben Kuzma. I’ve been corrected. But regardless of his moniker, the Russian import is full of personality and smiles, even after crashing and burning a bit near the end of Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau’s bag skate at the end of practice on Tuesday.
Kuzmenko thought, or maybe it was wishful thinking, that the final sprint had ended one rep’ early as he went down to his knees. Credit him for getting back up and finishing. Minutes later he smiled with Boudreau while stretching at centre ice.
As the Canucks coach warned us early in camp at Whistler, there was a chance the former KHL’er would have to get used to shorter shifts in the faster, feistier NHL. He was right. That’s been one of the adjustments. The Russian’s game shifts were dragging on.
That said, as promised, Kuzmenko can snipe. He scored on a wrister at the Whistler scrimmages. He’s also surprised many with his creativity while not shooting the puck. He skates hard and works hard.
OK, this had nothing to do with discovering a player’s talent, we’re familiar with it and we see it. This was more about whether or not Hughes would be moving to the right side fulltime. The lefty has seen action on both sides of the ice and of course has been roving while quarterbacking the top power play unit.
There’s a simple pleasure in watching Hughes manoeuvre and there seems to be a simple joy in it for him. Few players relish the ability to cruise around on their skates more so than ‘Huggy’.
He just seems to love skating, cruising and coasting around before and after the play. If you could skate like him, I reckon you would too.
The lefty/righty thing will obviously continue to be monitored. I have a feeling we’ll see him on both sides of the ice on a regular basis, especially considering ‘injuries happen’.
Karlsson will good a look in the Canucks line-up on Thursday evening at Rogers Arena against the Seattle Kraken in a preseason game.
He played 16:39 and had two shots-on-goal in the 4-0 split squad loss on Sunday evening in Calgary against the Flames.
It’s not a bad thing to have Canucks President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford insinuate that you have an impressive nose for the net, which he inferred in passing about Karlsson at the practice rink on Wednesday.
The Swede will go to the dirty areas and he’s been a successful scorer thus far in both the Young Stars Classic in Penticton and during scrimmages at training camp in Whistler. Thursday night is another great opportunity for evaluation.
Oh, and honestly, as a media group we’re still not quite sure if it’s “Lee-niss” or “Lie-niss”. We’ll ask him Thursday.