Vancouver Canucks: Nikita Tryamkin in Review

Mar 18, 2016; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Iiro Parkarinen (26) and Vancouver Canucks defensemen Nikita Tryamkin (88) look for a loose puck during the first period at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 18, 2016; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Iiro Parkarinen (26) and Vancouver Canucks defensemen Nikita Tryamkin (88) look for a loose puck during the first period at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /

Nikita Tryamkin has joined the Vancouver Canucks and after three games played, there’s a lot to like.

I had the pleasure of going to Nikita Tryamkin‘s Vancouver Canucks debut versus the Colorado Avalanche and I left that feeling night impressed. Impressed with Tryamkin, not the Canucks. Aside from their improving draft position, there’s not a lot to like about the Canucks lately.

Tryamkin though… He’s a big boy, that part is definitely true. The TV screen doesn’t do him justice — when he steps off the bench, you know he’s on the ice. You can’t not notice. Maybe in part because he kind of just steps over the bench like a regular human steps over left out toys on the living room floor.

I like this guy already

In that game, a lot of what I noticed was his play away from the puck, which you probably didn’t get to see a whole lot of from home. If the puck was on the boards, there was Tryamkin moving towards the boards to either intercept a pass or keep the puck in the offensive zone. If his D-partner moved forward to join the rush, Tryamkin floated more to centre to cover for both sides. If an Avalanche player moved ahead of the play for an outlet pass, Tryamkin followed him and shut down the passing lane.

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Those little things have a huge, huge impact on a game and more importantly, a season. In an age where an enormous amount of games are decided by a single goal, shutting down plays through smart positioning is a seriously underrated asset.

I don’t think Tryamkin is ever going to be a big point producer. Even his first NHL career point was a pretty generous assist. However, I do think he has the hockey IQ and awareness to be an effective and reliable shutdown d man. He reminds me a little of a young Christopher Tanev. A very big, Russian Chris Tanev.

His size is another thing, I’ve seen him hit a couple of guys now and each time, the guy he hits just kind of falls down or into a bench, whatever. Those guys are probably not wanting to feel that a second time, though. The more impressive thing is there’s been a few guys who have taken a run at him and those guys too, just kind of fell down.

I could be wrong but I’m pretty sure the only time he’s been laid down on the ice so far is block a shot. Oh yeah, he blocks shots too. And a sprawling Nikita Tryamkin is closer to nine feet of Russian that opposition has to get around than his upright 6-foot-7 frame.

His play is mature

His passing is effective. He looks like he leans more towards the safe plays rather than the throw it to centre for a breakout pass that players like Ben Hutton and Luca Sbisa are more apt to do, with varying success. The important thing though is there’s no hesitation in the plays he makes. He gets the puck and right away can send it back out and unlike Sbisa, it isn’t a frantic throw it away move, it’s a legitimate, smart play.

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I think he could use a little bit of work on his speed when the play changes direction, he’s been left behind a few times when the puck flies past him. Thankfully, his huge size and willingness to make those diving pokechecks to shut down a breakaway has bailed him out most times and Ryan Miller has for the others.

His speed in general could use a bit of improvement but for a guy his size, he’s quicker than I expected. It’s not like he’s slow or anything though, he does skate well and honestly, his huge size combined with his huge stick and capable poke check makes up for some of it.

I do expect him to get totally undressed a couple of times by the speedier guys in the league, though. Like most defensemen do from time to time.

For a guy who can’t really speak the language, just arrived in North America, and is still adjusting to the North American ice and game, he’s doing very well. Like, very well. I’m not going to call this guy a savior or anything crazy like that but Canucks fans should definitely feel positive about this guy.

Three games in and there’s not a lot to criticize him for outside of speed. At 21 years old, he has time to improve his skating. Lots of time.

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And that’s the most important thing to remember here. His age. This guy is younger than Ben Hutton is. If those two become the players we want them to become, that’s a huge step forward for a very long time for the d core of the Vancouver Canucks.

He plays with a lot more poise than I expected he would. His hockey sense and vision is what Ive noticed most about him though so far. Even more than his size. Feel good guys, he shows promise. And he made a better first impression than I expected he would. Doesn’t look bad at all for a third round pick from a couple years ago. Not bad at all.