If there’s one Vancouver Canucks player – a forward – that’s having a slow start, there’s one name that takes the cake.
Andrei Kuzmenko – a player who scored 39 goals on 27% shooting last season – has just three goals in 18 games this season. Of course, 27% was never going to be sustainable, and is largely just a one-off thing. Still, the 27-year-old is firing at a respectable 11.1% clip this season.
The problem, though, is that there are eight Canucks players with more goals than Kuzmenko to this point, and five of those eight have double Kuzmenko’s total or more.
Despite having played on a line with Elias Pettersson and Ilya Mikheyev – and previously Conor Garland – Kuzmenko is ninth on the Vancouver Canucks in shots on goal. Effectively, the Russian sharpshooter hasn’t played much of an active role when it comes to producing offense.
After all, Kuzmenko is still ninth in the NHL in shooting talent above average, per MoneyPuck. Pettersson, Leon Draisaitl, Mikko Rantanen, and David Pastrnak are amongst the eight names that rank ahead of Kuzmenko.
As far as goals above shooting talent goes, Kuzmenko is currently rocking a minus-2 in that department. Effectively, No. 96 isn’t finishing his chances as efficiently as he should be, based on past precedent.
Indeed, Kuzmenko scored at a rate higher than 1-in-4 last season, but even then, five goals in 18 games – compared to three – is still fairly modest.
Head coach Rick Tocchet said recently that “Kuzy needs to start playing harder,” so there could be a suite of different factors at play here. Tocchet didn’t take over until late last season, and confidence could be low, among other things.
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If the Vancouver Canucks wish to carry their hot start all the way until the end of the season, they’re going to need more from Kuzmenko. A lot of that responsibility lies with Tocchet, as well.