Welcome back to another Thursday’s worth of NHL Rumours, brought to you by the Last Word on Hockey team. Our daily articles keep you in the loop by collating all the latest and most important rumblings from around the National Hockey League. Today’s article turns a special eye towards extensions and some older names from Europe as free agency draws ever nearer. The Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, and Columbus Blue Jackets have all decided to throw their hats into this ring.
Rumour: Rick Dhaliwal of TSN 1040 mentions that defenceman Nikita Tryamkin‘s KHL contract will end on April 30th after his team’s elimination from the playoffs, opening the door for a return to the Canucks.
Defenseman Nikita Tryamkin’s season ended today in the KHL playoffs, his 3 year contract in the KHL ends on April 30th.
The #Canucks can now start talking contract with his agent Todd Diamond.
Tryamkin can not play this season.
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) March 10, 2020
Analysis: While Tryamkin is a name that’s going to get a lot of coverage in Vancouver media this summer, his possible return is unlikely to make a large impact on the team. The 2014 third-round pick was drafted because of his humongous frame, as Tryamkin is listed at 202 cm and 115 kg (6′ 8″ and 254 lbs).
Tryamkin plays a good defensive game, but his offensive production has left much to be desired throughout his career. In his last full season with the ‘Nucks, 2016-17, Tryamkin notched only nine points in 66 games. However, Tryamkin was only 22 years old at the time, and his additional maturity and comfortability with the game may make NHL effort #2 a better one. His best offensive season in Russia was his first year after leaving the Canucks, 2017-18. He notched 25 points in 51 games playing for Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg.
If the Canucks sign Tryamkin to a reasonable contract, it should be an okay depth signing, but nothing more.
Rumour: Another Russian forward might make a return to the NHL next year, as Elliotte Friedman mentions in his 31 Thoughts podcast, former Oiler Anton Slepyshev is considering a return to North American ice.
Analysis: Slepyshev is in a strikingly similar situation to the aforementioned Tryamkin. He was drafted by the Oilers only one year before, also in the third round. He’s a winger (get excited, Oilers fans) who has produced pretty well back home in Russia, but wasn’t able to put it together in his last stint with the Oilers.
However, his offensive production this past season with CSKA Moskva is likely to make him a pricier acquisition than Tryamkin. He’s notched 45 points in 54 games. So, the Oilers may have to shell out a little bit more to retain his services. Edmonton still holds his NHL rights. Therefore, a trade may end up being in the works if Slepyshev’s ask is too high for the Oilers.
It’s worth noting that Slepyshev’s position may increase Edmonton’s willingness to pay. Their struggles on the wing over the past few seasons have been well documented.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Rumour: As extension time draws nigh, Friedman also mentions that the Blue Jackets are working on an extension with rookie goaltender Elvis Merzlikins.
Analysis: Our third 25-year-old player of focus for this NHL Rumours piece is Merzlikins. He’s a Latvian goalie who’s made waves in his first NHL season for Columbus. In just 33 games, he’s put up impressive numbers, including a 2.35 goals-against average and .923 save percentage. After a slow start to the season, he’s looked like a legitimate option for the future of the net in Columbus.
Therefore, a long-term extension is not likely. Merzlikins, again, has only played 33 NHL games. While he’s had some great moments, he has shown the ability to be a little inconsistent. Columbus will likely want to see another season or two’s worth of play out of him before they’re willing to dish out the big bucks. Merzlikins likely understands this, so a short one or two-year deal is the most likely outcome for the organization.
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