The Vancouver Canucks are in the midst of a youth movement. So, let’s take a look at the club’s top youngsters!
If the Vancouver Canucks want to make their ‘rebuild on the fly’ work, they need a strong foundation of young roster players. We all know the Bo Horvats and Ben Huttons of the team, but what’s after that? How are things for the AHL Utica Comets and what can we expect from the Canucks’ next crop of youngsters?
To answer those questions, our staff ranked all signed Vancouver Canucks players under the age of 25. After compiling a list of the top 10 Canucks prospects recently, this is all about who can help today. And guess what, the Canucks only have a total of 26 players under 25 signed and playing in North America right now.
At No. 8 it is time to look at one of the NHL’s tallest players — defenseman Nikita Tryamkin.
#8 – Nikita Tryamkin
Team: Vancouver Canucks (NHL)
NHL Experience: 13 Games
How He Got Here
Nikita Tryamkin started his hockey career in Russia and for the longest time, it looked like that was the place for him to stay as well. He was never a particularly outstanding player — except for his 6-foot-8 frame, of course — but started his professional career with Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg in the KHL at 18 years old. I never saw Tryamkin play before he joined the Canucks, but I am going to assume his size combined with decent skating are the main reasons why he turned pro at that time.
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Those attributes could also be the reason why the Canucks decided to select him as an over-ager 66th overall at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. A very raw player, Tryamkin has all the tools to succeed as a defensive defenseman in the NHL. However, there is a lot of work to be done if he wants to stay there full-time.
As a European player, Tryamkin would have been eligible to play in the American Hockey League starting in the 2014-15 season. Unfortunately, he didn’t want to do that (and still doesn’t). For Tryamkin, it was always the NHL or home. So, late in the 2015-16 season, the Canucks decided he was finally ready for the big league, and signed him to an entry-level contract with a European assignment clause.
Where He Is Today
Today, Nikita Tryamkin is one of the bright spots of the Vancouver Canucks defense corps. That said, the expectations still shouldn’t be too high. In his 13 NHL games, Tryamkin was able to prove that he has all the tools to be successful — size, skating, hockey sense, stick work. However, he struggled mightily nonetheless.
It is normal for rookies to struggle, of course, and 13 games are a small sample size. We will have to wait another 20 games until we can really evaluate him. That said, he will have a tough time securing a roster spot this year, as everyone is healthy and there is basically only one spot he has a chance to win. The right side of the third D-pairing is reserved for Philip Larsen, but if Larsen struggles, Tryamkin will certainly get a shot to fill in there instead.
Where He’s Headed
Because of the reasons outlined above, there is no easy prediction for Tryamkin. He is currently a borderline NHL player who might be better off starting the year with the AHL Utica Comets. But, of course, he doesn’t want to go there and his contract allows him to leave for Russia if the Canucks don’t want him in the NHL. Well, sh*t.
Unless Tryamkin decides the AHL isn’t all that bad and agrees to go there for, say, a couple of months, there are basically three scenarios:
- He establishes himself in the NHL lineup
- He is a regular healthy scratch and the first player to jump in in the event of an injury
- The Canucks decide they need him to develop more and he returns to Russia
While we are all hoping for scenario one, two and three are definitely possible. Tryamkin as an injury “call-up” (or rather healthy scratch) would probably put him into the lineup very soon because there are always a couple of injured players. However, there are several other players who want to be injury call-ups as well — Biega, Pedan, Troy Stecher to name a few.
After seeing what Tryamkin did in his first 13 games, it seems stupid to send him back to Russia. But if the Canucks come to the reasonable conclusion that Tryamkin needs more time to develop, that is their only option. They could let him round out his game in Russia and try to get him to return later on.
There is a lot that could happen with Tryamkin in the future.