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Canucks’ Overseas Prospects Update

What’s going on with Vancouver’s European and Russian NHL prospects?

San Jose Sharks v Vancouver Canucks
Nikita Tryamkin stretches prior to a game during his first NHL stint with the Vancouver Canucks.

It’s playoffs time for Vancouver Canucks’ prospects playing overseas. They have four players located in Russia (Nikita Tryamkin, Vasily Podkolzin, Artyom Manukyan and Dimitry Zhukenov), three in Sweden (Nils Hoglander, Linus Karlsson and Arvid Costmar), two in Finland (Petrus Palmu and Toni Utunen) and one in the Czech Republic (Karel Plasek).


His Avtomobilist KHL club finishes its regular season tomorrow.

The Big Friendly Giant celebrated the coming of the second season by planting an opposition Avangard player into the boards in the first period of his team’s game yesterday morning. I was watching the game of another one of the Canucks’ KHL crew so I didn’t actually see it. BFG was tossed from the game. I am unsure as of yet if the hit will be suspension-worthy.

Those of us who’ve dreamt about the post-Soviet Russian Drago potentially re-joining the blue-and-green for their playoffs push and hopefully a long playoffs run appear set to be disappointed. The best information (although not yet clearly definitive enough for my liking) is that Tryamkin is ineligible to sign a contract to play for the Canucks this season and cannot do so until July 1st, 2020. It appears since he was a restricted free agent (RFA) when he left Vancouver in 2017, he is governed by the same rule that prohibited Oilers’ property Jesse Puljujarvi from signing an NHL contract after December 1st, 2019 this season.

The Russian shutdown defenceman has played in 57 of his club’s 61 games this year scoring 2 goals and 11 points. He is a plus 9 on the season and has fired 116 shots on net, doled out a 108 hits and blocked 96 shots.

His team is seeded 4th in the KHL’s Eastern Conference and they will take on the 5th seeded Sibir squad. Only six points separate the two clubs as the regular season winds down. BFG’s season could end in mid March if Avtomobilist loses its first round series.


His SKA KHL team finished its regular season yesterday with a 4-1 victory over its top Western Conference rival CSKA. The nomenclature reminds me of the Roughriders and Rough Riders of the old CFL. Who really knows which team is which?

SKA is currently the 1st seed in the West but if CSKA gets at least one point in its final regular season game tomorrow then it will finish in the top slot. Both teams are expected to run roughshod over the lowly 7th and 8th seeds in the Conference. The battle for top seed will likely just determine which club has the extra home ice game advantage in a future Conference finals series barring of course any upsets along the way.

Whatever the KHL post season brings for him, the key development for Podkolzin is that he has now emerged as a bonafide KHL forward at the tender age of 18. In his first 17 KHL games this season he didn’t tally even one point during very limited ice time. In his subsequent 13 games he has scored 2 goals and added 6 assists for 8 points. He also has been averaging nearly 13 minutes of playing time per game. His squad’s first round of the playoffs begin in early March.


His team Avangard is seeded 3rd in the KHL’s Eastern Conference. He suffered a serious hand injury during the KHL pre-season in 2019. After surgery and a long rehabilitation he returned to Avangard’s line-up in January hoping to get the rust off in time for the playoffs. He scored two goals in his first six games and it looked like he was primed for a stellar playoffs. Then in his seventh game back he re-injured his right hand on this seemingly innocuous play ending his 2019/20 season for good.

Hopefully, he will be fully healthy by the time the KHL’s 2020 pre-season starts up in late July. His contract with Avangard ends at the end of the 2020/21 season. He would then be free to further pursue his career in North America in the Canucks’ organization if both parties are agreeable.


His VHL regular season with Gornyak Uchaly ended about a week or so ago. He finished with an impressive 15 goals and 26 points in 52 games played. His KHL contract with Avtomobilist runs for one more season. He was not summoned from the VHL to play even one game for Avtomobilist this year.

His 6th seeded club trails two games to one in an ongoing Best of Seven first round playoff series with 3rd seed rival Dinamo St. Petersburg. Zhukenov scored his first playoff goal of the series earlier today in Game Three of the head-to-head combat.

Should his VHL season end it’s unclear if Avtomobilist will summon him as an extra body for their KHL playoffs run. The Canucks still retain his NHL rights so he is not out of their future plans at last word.


His SHL regular season is winding down and his Rogle club will qualify for the playoffs. However, he is mired in an offensive slump and his play has looked listless lately. In his last ten games for Rogle he has only managed to produce one lonely primary assist. His most recent goal of the season was scored eleven games ago.

He has scored 7 goals and 13 points in 34 SHL games this season. Some had him pegged to make the Canucks’ NHL roster for the 2020/21 season. His recent play appears to indicate he may need another season in the SHL or alternately will need a season in the AHL before seriously challenging for a spot on Vancouver’s top team.

It will be interesting to keep tabs on his performance through the SHL playoffs to see if he can bump his slump before his hockey season is over. He is eligible to be selected to play for Sweden at the IIHF World Championship tournament in May which takes place in Switzerland after the SHL playoffs conclude. It is unclear whether or not he will play in North America this season.


He has been sidelined with a shoulder injury for the last couple of Allsvenskan league games but returned to action today. He wears jersey #94 for Karlskoga and plays on their first line.

Prior to the injury, he was a force on his new Allsvenskan team putting up 3 goals and 9 assists for 12 points in 9 games. Overall he has tallied 11 goals and 34 points in 44 total Allsvenskan games for his two clubs this season. He added a goal to his above totals today in Karlskoga’s 4-2 victory over Sodertalje.

Karlskoga will qualify for the Allsvenskan playoffs that begin in March. They have a chance at winning promotion to the SHL next season. I expect Karlsson to stay in Sweden next seaon and play for Karlskoga rather than sign with the Canucks and play in Utica.


The Canucks’ seventh round 2019 draft pick is lighting up the Swedish SuperElit J20 league like he is a first round NHL draftee. He has scored a gaudy 25 goals and 22 assists for 47 points in 27 junior games for Linkoping this season.

The 18 year old was also recently promoted briefly to Linkoping’s SHL club as their 13th forward and managed to snipe his first professional goal during very limited ice time.

Linkoping’s SHL club will miss the playoffs but not face relegation to the Allsvenskan league. So it appears that Costmar will play out the rest of the season in junior hockey and compete with his team for the Anton Cup which is the SuperElit league’s version of the NHL’s Stanley Cup. I expect he will play for Linkoping in the SHL next season and also will be on Team Sweden’s squad on Boxing Day for the start of the 2021 World Junior U20 ice hockey tournament.


He got off to a hot start after the Canucks’ loaned him to JYP of the Finnish Liiga. He has cooled since then but still has accumulated a respectable 11 goals and 31 points in 42 games. His club is in eighth place in the Liiga and will have to win a Best of Three playoffs series to qualify for the quarter-final playoffs round.

It appears Palmu’s Finnish hockey season will end some time in March. He is expected to then re-join Utica for their Calder Cup playoffs run. If he doesn’t join them then expect his agent and the Canucks to come to a mutual termination agreement of his contract prior to next season.


He hasn’t been the same since he suffered a serious leg injury playing for his Tappara club in a Champions Hockey League game in early September 2019. He had been established as a solid third pairing defensive defenceman with the club prior to the injury. When he returned to action in late October he got his third-pairing D-spot back. Since then though he has been demoted to his team’s 7th D-man and also has been healthy-scratched for another defenceman who has a prior ECHL resume.

He has not scored and only has three assists in 29 Liiga games this season. I was hoping that his offensive game would emerge at the professional level this year but he has regressed overall instead. He is only a plus one defenceman on a powerful second place Tappara club.

If will be interesting to see how much ice time he gets during what is expected to be a long playoffs run for Tappara. In any event, I don’t think he will sign with the Canucks and play in North America next season. I think he will instead play another year in the Finnish Liiga and try and re-establish his pre-injury game and hopefully make some offensive strides in his professional game. He has shown he is able to produce offensively at his junior peer level in the past.


He is playing for Kometa Brno in the Czech Republic’s top professional league. He started out on the second line at the beginning of the season but has mainly been playing fourth line minutes recently prior to suffering a shoulder injury which has kept him out of Kometa’s past couple of games. He has tallied three goals and three assists for six points in 34 Extraliga games this season.

He also played on the Czech Republic’s 2020 World Junior club and came back from the experience to the Czech league a more confident player.

His Kometa Brno team will qualify for the playoffs which begin in March. I expect Plasek to play again in the Extraliga next season and try and establish himself as a full time top six forward. If all goes well perhaps the Canucks will sign him to come over to North America and play for Utica in the AHL during the 2021/22 season.

With hockey playoffs season starting to ramp up overseas, it is a signal that the NHL playoffs are no longer that far away on the horizon. Hopefully, Vancouver fans will soon have a good reason to get their Canucks’ car flags out of mothballs and wave them proudly across the Lower Mainland. It feels like it might be our time again to get to the Western Conference Final and beyond. After all, why not us?