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What Nikita Tryamkin’s KHL Signing Says About The Canucks

Trent Leith / May 4, 2021  

Nikita Tryamkin fatigue may have reached a critical mass and merciful end this weekend for Vancouver fans as he signed a 2-year deal with his KHL club, Yekaterinburg Avtomobilist. This comes after much speculation and rumour that the Vancouver Canucks and Tryamkin have been working towards a new deal that would bring Tryamkin back to the NHL. These rumours were put to rest, but speculation as to why Tryamkin signed in Russia has only started to grow.

He Said She Said

Tryamkin’s agent, Todd Diamond, told the media this weekend that the Canucks and Tryamkin’s camp were not close as far as dollar figures went. “I told the Canucks what it would take on both a 1 or 2-year term and they told me what they could guarantee today and the gap was just too wide for Nikita,” Diamond told Rick Dhaliwal. 

“Very simply, the financial gap was too wide for it to make sense for Nikita to move his family to Vancouver for less money than he was making in the KHL,” Diamond said on Sunday. Tryamkin would end up signing a tax-free deal in Russia for two years. The exact salary has not been revealed.

Jim Benning told The Province that the reason Tryamkin didn’t sign, was that he preferred to stay in Russia and the Canucks were ready to give Tryamkin exactly what he was asking for. It has been speculated that both a one and two-year deal on one-way contracts were in the works but no true negotiations ever took place. 

“We were prepared to pay Nikita what he was asking for, but my understanding is that his decision, in the end, was based on wanting to stay in Russia, rather than play in the NHL,” Benning said on Sunday

Obviously, two powers at opposite ends of negotiations have different stories to tell. The speculation from there then becomes who is telling the truth and what does the public not know?

What’s Actually Going on? 

There has been much speculation that Nikita Tryamkin’s camp was using the rumours that he wants to play in the NHL, as contract leverage to get a better deal in Russia. These preliminary talks between the team and the six-foot-seven Russian defender were merely posturing in overseas negotiations. While no concrete evidence of that is apparent, it is not difficult to understand where that thought process comes from. We may never know if these rumours are true or not, it is something to consider though when looking over the situation as a whole.

Nikita Tryamkin has always seemed like a player that would prefer to play in the NHL, but it seems destined to not be with the Vancouver Canucks after all. To this day Tryamkin’s Instagram profile picture is still him in a Canucks uniform. While that is not definitive proof that he would prefer to be in the NHL, it certainly shows that after all these years it still means something for him to have played at the highest level. 

Jim Benning on the other hand has publicly said that he was willing to give Tryamkin exactly what he wanted, but ultimately it turns out what he wanted was to stay in Russia. Todd Diamond pushed back on these remarks by Jim Benning and said that the reason Tryamkin decided to stay in Russia was that it was the best option because of how the last Canucks off-season went and the amount of money Tryamkin could bring home on a tax-free contract in Russia. 

How This Reflects on The Canucks

Just like many of the other players that dealt with the Vancouver Canucks in the off-season, Tryamkin was left with a bad taste in his mouth after Jim Benning “ran out of time”. 

“Nikita wanted to know the numbers now and was not prepared to wait for the Canucks to try and move some contracts out. We waited last summer for the Canucks to sign him and when Jim could not get approval, Nikita was left to negotiate a contract with his KHL club that had spent nearly its entire budget” Jim Benning told the media on Sunday.

This likely played the largest role in Nikita’s decision and it reflects very poorly on the state of affairs in Vancouver. Nikita Tryamkin, Chris Tanev, Tyler Toffoli, Jacob Markstrom, and Troy Stetcher are among the names of players that wanted to sign new deals with the Vancouver Canucks in the off-season and were left empty-handed. In some cases, it was in the team’s best interest to walk away from these players, but that was not the case with all of them. 

The lingering effects of the summer of 2020 are starting to rear their ugly head. If the Canucks’ reputation scares off a depth defender who is eager to play in the NHL again, what does that mean for higher-profile players with more options? This summer there needs to be a serious reckoning in the Canucks front office should they want to bounce back and be a desired destination for players again. 

The mismanagement of assets in the last calendar year has the very real possibility to leave a lasting scar on this franchise as they try to build up and open their competitive window. Not to mention the fact that in the next few years core players are starting to enter UFA status, and the team is now positioning themselves to be an undesirable place to re-sign, if they continue down the road that the current management group has set them on.