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Jim Benning would love to have defenceman Nikita Tryamkin back on his roster.
The question for the Vancouver Canucks’ general manager is: how?
There’s likely to be one if not two open spots on the Canucks’ roster next summer. Oscar Fantenberg will be out of a contract and then there’s the Troy Stecher/Chris Tanev dilemma — it’s unlikely the Canucks will be able to retain both right-shot blue-liners.
The left-shooting Tryamkin can play both sides of the ice. One presumes that Fantenberg’s spot would be taken by Olli Juolevi, who is enjoying a solid season with the Utica Comets, even if observers believe he still needs to improve his gap control.
On the right side, there could be an opening either for Brogan Rafferty, who has a one-way deal next season — meaning that if the Canucks were to reassign him to the AHL next fall, he’d get paid the same as if he were in the NHL — or, were he to sign, Tryamkin.
As things stand, there appears to be strong interest from Tryamkin’s camp in returning to the NHL.
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“We feel Nikita can play for any club in the NHL,” Tryamkin’s agent Todd Diamond said via text message. “Vancouver has his exclusive NHL rights, he is familiar with the city, ownership, management and staff, and we will engage in talks after Nikita’s KHL season.
“The team and coaching staff is much different from when Nikita was last in Vancouver and we view that very positively.”
The big Russian defenceman is under contract with the KHL’s Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg through the end of the 2019-20 season.
“Obviously he’s on our reserve list,” Benning said Thursday morning. “Our pro scouts continue to watch and keep tabs on him. When his season is over and his contract is up, I’ll speak with Todd.”
“Nikita is a guy we know can play in the league. He’s a good skater for his size and he can make a good first pass.”
Benning and his pro scouts held meetings last week in Vancouver, taking stock of the players they may want to add to their roster, should the opportunity arise.
The team’s stock of looming free agents was also part of the discussion.
“We have some decisions to make from now until the end of the year,” he said.
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