The Vancouver Canucks are heading into the All-Star break atop the league standings with 71 points despite their leading goal scorer from last season falling out of favor.
Andrei Kuzmenko scored 39 goals last season but has found himself as a healthy scratch multiple times in 2023-24. With only eight goals and 13 assists through 43 games, Kuzmenko’s name has often been brought up as a player who could see a change of scenery by the trade deadline.
On the 32 Thoughts podcast with Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek, the two discussed Kuzmenko and possible destinations for the 27-year-old Russian winger. Friedman believes the Chicago Blackhawks could potentially make a move for the second-year NHLer, while Marek believes the NY Islanders are his most likely destination.
“It’s funny too because I always think Kuzmenko - if they’re going to move off him in Vancouver, that he’s going to end up with the Islanders,” Marek said.
While the Islanders' top line has been clicking throughout the season, there’s been a steady decline in secondary scoring. Pierre Engvall has been struggling offensively, and an influx of goal-scoring could certainly spark this team in a second half of the season run toward the playoffs.
It appears Vancouver's head coach is having issues with Kuzmenko’s effort not only during games but in practice as well.
“We have a lot of good guys. They’ll go up to him and explain things … but you got to take initiative and it really starts in practice,” said head coach Rick Tocchet according to The Province.” Like if there’s a drill and you’re supposed to go this way, you got to do it that way. And you got to do it with pace and you know, sometimes it’s a hit or miss with him.”
In Patrick Roy’s short time on Long Island so far, it’s evident he isn’t the type to put up with a lack of effort on a nightly basis, but perhaps Kuzmenko needs a new voice.
Between Kuzmenko’s lack of production, limited ice time, and frequent healthy scratches, his trade value is diminishing daily. It’s possible Lou Lamoriello could look to strike another deal with Patrik Allvin that wouldn't break the Islanders' bank.