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The Nikita Tryamkin saga has to end eventually...right?

Do you want to see the hulking defenceman back in Vancouver?

Kontinental Hockey League: Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg vs SKA St Petersburg
Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg’s Nikita Tryamkin ahead of the 2018/19 KHL Regular Season ice hockey match between Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg and SKA St Petersburg at Uralets Stadium. Donat Sorokin/TASS
Photo by Donat Sorokin\TASS via Getty Images

Will we still be talking about Nikita Tryamkin in the year 2042?

“The Canucks defensive depth is looking a little shallow for the 2041-42 season after Quinn Hughes retired. One option the team is looking at is bringing 47-year-old Russian defenceman Nikita Tryamkin back into the fold. Although he hasn’t played for the team since 2016-17, the hulking Russian has teased a return at least twice a year in the 25 years since his departure.”

Seriously though, it’s crazy to think that it’s been four seasons since Tryamkin left the marijuana-infested city of Vancouver to return to his hometown KHL team, Yekaterinburg.

Here are some things that have happened since Tryamkin departed in the 2017 offseason.

  • Travis Green has coached the Canucks for four seasons.
  • The Canucks have drafted Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes and Nils Hoglander.
  • The first solar eclipse since 1918 hit North America on August 21st, 2017.
  • Donald Trump got impeached twice.
  • Canada legalized marijuana.

Tryamkin is in the news once again, because of his agent, and because of the defender’s desires to return to the NHL four years after his absence.

You just have to wonder, if he is realistic about coming back, he’ll need to be realistic in his contract demands as well.

The Canucks are in an unenviable cap situation heading into the 2021-22 season. Based on our recent estimates (with a stick tap to CapFriendly, of course), the Canucks will have roughly $9 million in cap space to sign a top-six winger, two bottom-six centres, and two top-four defenceman.

They don't have enough cap space to fill all of those holes and notably, Tryamkin does nothing to solve any of those problems.

Now, if you truly believe Diamond’s gerrymandering about Tryamking being a top-four defenceman, then perhaps you believe he can fill that hole on a cheap contract. Here’s why that’s a foolish bet to make, based on his KHL timeline since leaving the Canucks

  • 2017-18: Tryamkin was an absolute beast for Yekaterinburg during his return to the KHL. He led all defenceman on the team with nine goals and 25 points in 51 games, and was named the KHL’s defenceman of the month multiple times, along with earning a spot on the KHL’s First All-Star Team by the end of the season.
  • 2018-19: After one stellar season, things started to go south for Tryamkin. He was named captain prior to the season, but had it stripped from him after just 21 games. Despite the fact that Yekaterinburg went 20-1 to start the season, Tryamkin was not a big part of that. He had three points in 17 games, and was a healthy scratch on four occasions before the “C” was taken from him. He finished with fewer points and fewer minutes played compared to the previous season.
  • 2019-20: While the Canucks made a triumphant return to the playoffs, Tryamkin’s play overseas continued to slide. He saw his role on the team further decrease, and his 11 points in 58 games was his worst total offensively since he was a 20-year-old in the KHL back in 2014-15.
  • 2020-21: By all accounts, Tryamkin had a bit of a bounce-back KHL season. He wasn’t back to his dominant form from 2017-18, but he served as an alternate captain and had some spot duty as captain during a steady campaign. His 122 blocked shots also ranked third among all KHLers.
Nov. 15, 2020 (Xinhua) — Dinamo Riga’s Berzins Daniels (R) vies with Avtomobilist Ekaterinburg’s Nikita Tryamkin during the 2020-2021 Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) ice hockey match in Riga, Latvia, Nov. 14, 2020. (Photo by Edijs Palens/Xinhua)
Xinhua/Edijs Palens via Getty Images

The case for bringing back Tryamkin

Despite some minor improvement in the KHL last season, is it worth it for the Canucks to bring back a player who will be 27 years old by next season?

If you’re on the Tryamkin bandwagon, here’s why you might want to see him back.

1. He wasn’t terrible for the Canucks as a 22-year-old during his short NHL stint. Despite played limited minutes with a revolving door of partners, Tryamkin offered a blend of speed and physicality rarely seen in this market.

2. He might be worth a gamble if he’s willing to take a one-year, $1 million (or less) prove-it contract.

3. With the Canucks on the verge of rostering two speedy, smaller defenceman in Quinn Hughes and Jack Rathbone, it might be worthwhile to roster a guy like Tryamkin who’s willing to hold the other team accountable.

4. This...

The case for moving on from Tryamkin

1. He’s not very good. After a stellar 2017-18 campaign, Tryamkin has settled in as a middle-pairing KHL defenceman.

2. Tryamkin can be exciting because he’s often overly aggressive defensively. While he has some positive attributes, his rover mentality can get him into trouble.

3. For a big man, he wasn’t great under pressure in his own end with the Canucks. He had a propensity for getting rid of the puck too soon instead of keeping his head up and using his teammates to keep possession. That led to a barrage of icing calls against the Canucks because Tryamkin would carelessly throw the puck around the glass.

2. His contract demands will likely be too high. Tryamkin hasn’t proven that he’s worth anything more than a one-year, $1 million prove-it contract. In this cap environment, even a million is too rich. Does Tryamkin really want to uproot his wife and child to move across the world for a one-year, prove-it deal?

4. As mentioned before, he doesn’t solve any of the Canucks glaring holes. He’s not a top-four defenceman and for a team that should have playoff aspirations, they shouldn’t be penciling him in as one.

5. The Canucks already have two left-shot defenceman vying for full-time roles next season in Jack Rathbone and Olli Juolevi. If those two are a part of the team, they’re likely fighting for a spot on the third pair. Where does that leave Tryamkin if he joins the team? Can any of them realistically emerge and play second-pairing minutes? That’s asking a lot of two raw prospects and a 27-year-old that’s barely been able to handle second-pairing minutes in the KHL.

Unfortunately, there’s no answer to the Tryamkin saga today. Just like Raymond, Ballard and a second, Tryamkin is a pop culture anecdote who will live on forever in Canucks lore — regardless of if he plays again for the franchise or not.