Jim Benning has not given up on Nikita Tryamkin, who could be back in Vancouver as a member of the Canucks as soon as 2020.
The Canucks GM confirmed as much in an interview with Sportsnet 650 on Wednesday, adding that he met with Tryamkin’s agent Todd Diamond at the NHL Draft Combine in Buffalo last week.
The Canucks have been without their 2014 third-round pick since he bolted for the KHL two years ago. The 6-foot-7 Russian defenceman just completed year two of a three-year deal he signed with his hometown team Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg in the KHL.
“[Tryamkin’s] got another year left on his contract (with his KHL team),” said Benning. “We’d love to have him back. As we’re watching the Stanley Cup playoffs and we’re seeing size and strength of St Louis’ defence, he could be a big part of our group and he’s a young player.”
Tryamkin turns 25 this summer, meaning he could be entering the prime years of his career.
“I thought over the course of the year he was here (in 2016-17), he really developed,” added Benning. “We’d like to have him back, we’re going to continue conversations with his agent about what that looks like and when it could happen. We’ll try to figure that out.”
A player that Canucks fans still obsess over, there’s still a lot of uncertainty surrounding Tryamkin. He is a good skater for his size, and displayed raw talent when he played for the Canucks.
Tryamkin was named a KHL All-Star in each of the last two seasons, and played for Russia at the 2018 IIHF World Championship. He scored 25 points (9-16-25) and racked up 109 penalty minutes in 2017-18, but saw his production dip last season with just 11 points (3-8-11) in 41 games, to go with 31 PIMs.
But excelling in the KHL does not guarantee NHL success.
It was after the 2018 Worlds that Tryamkin gave an indication that he was open to a return.
“Would I like to come back? Why not,” Tryamkin said last year in an interview with Daily Hive. “It depends on many factors.”
Tryamkin also told us that he kept tabs on the Canucks, watching their games and highlights regularly.
“I’m still interested how the team plays,” he said.
It certainly seems like there’s interest on both sides, and the Canucks are looking to upgrade their back end, particularly on the right side. It’s why the team has been linked to Nikita Zaitsev and Tyler Myers recently.
Tryamkin is a left-shot d-man, but has experience playing the right side.
Because the KHL’s season ends earlier than the NHL, there’s a possibility that Tryamkin could return to the Canucks before the end of next season.