Vancouver Canucks Rumour: Ronalds Kenins leaving Utica?

Vancouver Canucks forward Ronalds Kenins may be on his way out of North America.

As the Vancouver Canucks push on with the youth movement, one young player on the wrong side of the fence is Ronalds Kenins,  who endeared himself to the fans of Vancouver last year.

But with his contract set to expire, the “Latvian Locomotive” might be on his way back to Europe, potentially to the Swiss Elite Leauge. According to the Swiss source Tages-Anzeiger, as 2016 draft phenom Auston Matthews makes his way out of the Elite League, Kenins might be on his way into the Swiss hockey ranks.

Here is the excerpt from SwissHockeyNews.ch. It also discusses the potential return of coach Marc Crawford to the NHL and the elimination of Auston Matthews’s team from the playoffs.

Moreover, the same source speculates about a return of forward Ronalds Kenins to the Hallenstadion. After a good start into his North America adventure last season, the 25-year-old had to play the bigger part of this season with Vancouver’s AHL affiliate. The Canucks were even willing to trade the young Latvian forward. (SwissHockeyNews.ch)

The 25-year-old left winger fell out of favour with the new management led by Jim Benning and Trevor Linden for his lack of two-way play this season. Down with the AHL Utica Comets for 24 games this season, Kenins was only able to manage three goals and 13 helper this season. Sure 16 points in 24 games is not so shabby, but the Latvian has been greatly criticized for his lack of hockey identity.

Kenins was a surprise in 2014-15 when he recorded 12 points in 30 games. The reason he was called up in the first place was to play the bottom-six checking role, but when his deceptive wrist shot started going through netminders, Kenins deviated from his physical play and showed up in training camp trying to play a scorer’s game.

As you can imagine, Benning and Linden did not like that. Besides a short call-up to the NHL for six games (through which Kenins recorded no points and four penalty minutes), Kenins was forsaken from the club’s plan moving forward. He also had struggles this year with injuries, mind you.

Related: Ranking the TOP 10 Canucks Prospects

Kenins was also part of the “Garage Sale Seven” that Benning tried to move at the trade deadline. Kenins is set to become a restricted free agent after his $600k contract expires at the end of this season. Of course, there is still a possibility that Benning extends an offer to the Latvian. However the emergence of gritty winger Alex Grenier and the centreman-made-winger Brendan Gaunce will highly limit Kenins’s potential with the club.

Despite the high-end talent waiting to bloom in Brock Boeser, with Hunter Shinkaruk gone and Nicklas Jensen too, the Canucks do not have much depth down the wing after Grenier. If Kenins does leave the league, be sure that Jim Benning signs young free agent prospects to fill his pipeline.

Last thought: could Kenins pull an “Anton Rodin” and return after a stint in the Swedish Hockey League? There is chance that his RFA status allows the Canucks to do that in the future. More to come, I am sure.