Canucks Potential Trade Partners for Kuzmenko

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported Vancouver Canucks forward Andrei Kuzmenko is drawing trade interest. However, he adds the organization prioritizes re-signing the forward as he will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

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“What’s interesting, of course, is that teams are calling,” LeBrun said. “Why wouldn’t they be? He’s got a cheap cap hit. Teams that are going for it, that are a contender, have almost no cap room – he would fit the bill both in terms of what he can do offensively and the fact he doesn’t take up a lot of room on the cap.”

Andrei Kuzmenko Vancouver Canucks
Andrei Kuzmenko, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Although the Canucks are attempting to re-sign the 26-year-old, they are better off acquiring pieces from playoff teams instead. The organization will likely trade captain Bo Horvat before the trade deadline but should be able to acquire more in a trade involving Kuzmenko. He has a cap hit of $950,000 and has 17 goals and 38 points in 42 games. As for what the Canucks want in a trade, president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford recently said the team is looking for young NHL players first and draft picks second.

Related: Canucks Need to Move Top Trade Pieces Soon

The Canucks have a few trade partners for Kuzmenko who’d give up young NHL players and draft picks to improve their team heading into the playoffs.

Dallas Stars

The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta believes the Dallas Stars would like to add to their middle-six forward group. Adding a cheap and productive winger in Kuzmenko is exactly what the organization needs in their quest to win the Stanley Cup this year. Their healthy top-six consists of Jason Robertson, who is fifth in the NHL in points (60) and tied for sixth in goals (29), Roope Hintz, Joe Pavelski, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Kuzmenko’s 17 goals would tie him with Benn for third on the team, while his 38 points would place him fifth on the team in points.

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The Stars are battling for the top of the Central Division with the Winnipeg Jets and are sixth in the league standings. Three of the Stars’ top-six forwards are north of 30, while Hintz is 26. Therefore, the organization’s window to win with their current core is closing, and they should attempt to improve their team by adding a top-six forward.

The Canucks have a few options to consider in a trade with the Stars for Kuzmenko. The organization added 21-year-old right-shot defenceman Nils Lundkvist from the New York Rangers, who has averaged 17:19 time on ice per game (TOI/GP). However, the Stars might not be willing to give up a piece on their blue line to add upfront. Still, the Stars do have a few young NHL forwards they could offer. Although the club likely won’t trade their 2021 first-round pick, Wyatt Johnson, 2018 first-round draft pick Ty Dellandrea is a player the Canucks will likely be interested in.

Ty Dellandrea Dallas Stars
Ty Dellandrea, Dallas Stars (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The 22-year-old is a full-time NHL player for the Stars this year, playing in all 45 games for the team. He has five goals and 18 points this season, adding to his total of eight goals and 23 points in 72 career games. Despite playing in every game for the organization this season, he’s averaged 14:09 TOI/GP. At 22 years old, a change in scenery could help in his development, and Vancouver could be that place for Dellandrea.

The Stars could also offer 2019 first-round pick, defenceman Thomas Harley in the trade for Kuzmenko. They can also throw in a draft pick with one of the players involved. Since they don’t have their 2023 first-round pick, they could offer their 2023 second-rounder pick or their 2024 first-rounder. The Canucks may also be able to get one of the Stars’ top prospects in Logan Stankoven or Mavrik Bourque. The Canucks could add a player in their early 20s, along with either a draft pick or prospect from Dallas for Kuzmenko.

New York Rangers

After reaching the Eastern Conference Final last season, the Rangers are once again a Cup-contending team. With $1.219 million in cap space, the club can afford to add Kuzmenko. The Rangers can also use a boost in their top six as the club will likely look to target a forward as the trade deadline approaches.

The Rangers also have pieces the Canucks will be interested in. Although the organization showed interest in Alexis Lafreniere, LeBrun reported the Rangers told teams he isn’t available for trade. However, the Rangers have other players in their early 20s the Canucks could add in Kaapo Kakko (21) and Filip Chytil (23). Kakko has played four seasons in the NHL, and the 2019 second-overall pick has yet to break out. He has nine goals and 20 points in 45 games this season, adding to his career total of 35 goals and 78 points in 202 games. Similar to the Stars’ Dallandrea, Kakko could use a change of scenery as well.

Kaapo Kakko New York Rangers
Kaapo Kakko, New York Rangers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Chytil is a player who has taken some time to break out. After four full seasons on the main roster, the 2017 first-round pick is having a career season. He has 12 goals and a career-high 24 points in 37 games. The Rangers could sell high on the centre, while Chytil would fill a need for the Canucks.

Along with either Chytil or Kakko, the Rangers have two 2023 first-round draft picks to offer the Canucks. They have their own pick and the Stars 2023 first-rounder as well. The Canucks could add one of the two forwards, along with a first-round pick in a trade with the Rangers for Kuzmenko.

Winnipeg Jets

The Jets are first in the Central Division and fifth in the league standings with a 29-14-1 record. After a disappointing 2021-22 season, the organization has bounced back and are contenders. However, the window for the current group to win a Stanley Cup is closing. Mark Scheifele and Connor Hellebuyck are nearing 30, while Blake Wheeler is 36. Additionally, the organization is unsure about Pierre-Luc Dubois’ future with the team. Therefore, going all in and adding a player of Kuzmenko’s calibre would be wise for the Jets and help them put together a deep playoff run.

Related: Canucks Could Trade 4 Major Players Before 2023 Trade Deadline

The Jets have two players the Canucks will be interested in adding for the Russian forward. Cole Perfetti will be a player the organization would ask for in return. The 21-year-old has played 58 NHL games, scoring six goals and posting 33 points. This season, he has six goals and 26 points in 40 games. If the Jets are looking to boost their top six, swapping Perfetti out for Kuzmenko would make sense. If the Jets aren’t willing to part ways with the forward, the Canucks could switch their focus to adding Ville Heinola.

The blueliner has split time between the NHL and the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Manitoba Moose this season. He’s posted one point in nine NHL games while posting one goal and 11 points in 14 AHL games. The 21-year-old defenceman will be a welcomed addition to the Canucks’ blue line.

The Jets also have a few prospects they can offer to the Canucks. Chaz Lucius and Rutger McGroarty are two of Winnipeg’s top prospects. Lucius, the 2021 first-round pick, has played 12 games with the Moose this season, scoring two goals and posting five points. He also played in seven games for Team USA at the 2023 World Junior Championships, scoring five goals and posting seven points in seven games. McGroarty, the 2022 first-round pick, has played 22 games with the University of Michigan, scoring nine goals and posting 20 points. Otherwise, the Jets can throw in their 2023 first-round draft pick as well.

Canucks Should Trade Kuzmenko

The Canucks have a lot more options for trade partners in a deal for Kuzmenko than other players on the team. The forward can play top-six minutes and has a low cap hit. The Stars, Rangers and Jets fit the description of teams that are likely interested in adding the Russian forward. Additionally, they are teams with the pieces the Canucks would be interested in adding.