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It’s the latest edition of the weekly tracker, where we tally up the efforts of the Vancouver Canucks’ highest-profile prospects:

Nikita Tryamkin

The longest running soap opera in Canucks prospect programming history has reached its cliffhanger finale.

So if you’d already checked out on the mountainous 26-year-old defenceman, it’s time to pay attention again.

Nikita Tryamkin’s KHL season is over, with his hometown Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg team dropping a 3-1 Game 5 decision to Avangard Omsk on Wednesday.

The 6-foot-8, 254-pound left-shot D-man, selected in the third round of the NHL draft way back in 2014, had a steady final game, finishing the affair with an even rating, a shot on net and one hit in 22:33 of ice time.

In five playoff games, Tryamkin had a goal, an assist and a plus-4 rating overall — pretty good, considering No. 7 Avtomobilist were clearly outmatched against the conference’s No. 2 seed.

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The solid playoff performance followed a strong regular season for the restricted free agent, who was third in the league in blocked shots, played over 20 minutes a night and had 15 points (3G, 12A) in 60 games.

Now we wait, his agent Todd Diamond told Sportsnet 650’s Dan Riccio and Randip Janda on the Reach Deep show on Wednesday.

But not for too long.

“A year from now, he’s an unrestricted free agent. I think the time frame is a lot shorter than it seems to try to work something out,” Diamond said. “Last summer, we waited and waited and lost significant money by waiting for the Canucks and eventually had to sign a one-year deal in Russia. We’re hopeful that will not be the case this time.”

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According to Diamond, even though Tryamkin’s KHL contract runs out on April 30, the paperwork to sign with the Canucks “cannot be filed until July 1 — or what the equivalent of July 1 will be this summer — but we would need to have some certainty for Nikita leading up to this point.”

It appeared as though the Canucks were on track to sign the hulking defenceman last off-season, but a flat salary cap brought about by the coronavirus pandemic shut the door on the Russia for another year.

“They’ve had a year to look at the pieces and figure out what they’re going to do,” Diamond said.

In other words, Tryamkin wants back in the NHL — one way or another.

But whether the Canucks decide to sign the polarizing defenceman depends on what they envision for their blue-line going forward. Veterans Jordie Benn, Travis Hamonic and longtime Canuck Alex Edler are all unrestricted free agents this coming off-season.

Factor in 2016 first-rounder Olli Juolevi, who has shown well at times this season in Vancouver, as well as Jack Rathbone (2017, Rd. 4), who has exploded onto the scene with the Utica Comets, and the Canucks’ blue-line picture for next season is as convoluted as ever.

Canucks coach Travis Green, commenting on the improved physical play of his defence last week, said “there’s something to be said about having heavy defencemen who can end a play.”

Tryamkin can offer that — and so much more — as he enters the prime of his career.

Nikita Tryamkin skates away after colliding with Brad Richardson of the Arizona Coyotes during their NHL game at Rogers Arena on November 17, 2016.
Nikita Tryamkin skates away after colliding with Brad Richardson of the Arizona Coyotes during their NHL game at Rogers Arena on November 17, 2016. Photo by Jeff Vinnick /PNG

Tryamkin arrived in Vancouver at the tail end of the 2015-16 season and played 13 games, then skated for 66 more during the 2016-17 season, scoring two goals, assisting on seven more and accumulating a minus-7 rating overall.

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It was a time of transition for the franchise, and there were some well-publicized issues with the player — some of them warranted, some not. Tryamkin never did mesh well with Willie Desjardins and the coaching staff, who seemed to value defencemen like Ben Hutton and Luca Sbisa over the Russian.

Despite the problems, the ceiling was high for the big defenceman, who skated so well and was becoming the kind of physical deterrent on the back end that the Canucks hadn’t had in quite some time.

There was the game in Anaheim on April 1, 2016, when Tryamkin crushed forward Brandon Pirri along the boards, swatted aside tough guy Chris Stewart and would’ve taken on the entire Ducks roster had the refs not stepped in.

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Then there was the game in Vancouver on March 16, 2017, when Tryamkin knocked Dallas Stars’ big shot Jamie Benn over with a hit and then fought him with one glove still on.

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Suffice to say, these are things you don’t forget about a player.

After a season serving in a leadership role with Avtomobilist, it’s now or never for the Canucks to get Tryamkin back on the blue-line.

We’ll see if Canucks GM Jim Benning gets the deal done this time around.


Vasili Podkolzin reacts after being selected tenth overall by the Vancouver Canucks during the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena.
Vasili Podkolzin reacts after being selected tenth overall by the Vancouver Canucks during the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena. Photo by Bruce Bennett /Getty Images

Vasili Podkolzin

He’s moving on in the KHL playoffs and gaining some big game experience in the process.

Podkolzin, 19, skated on the fourth line in SKA St Petersburg’s series-clinching, come-from-behind 4-3 Game 5 OT win over Dinamo Minsk on Wednesday and had a positive impact, despite going a minus-1 and not getting any points.

The Canucks’ top prospect, drafted 10th overall in 2019, tied the team lead with four shots on goal and kept a high pace of play throughout the game, throwing two hits in 14:01 of ice time.

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Podkolzin, a 6-foot-1, 204-pound left-shot winger, finishes the first round of the KHL playoffs with three points (2G, 1A), 14 shots on goal, five hits and four penalty minutes while averaging 13:27 of ice time.

No. 2 SKA next face No. 3 Dynamo Moscow, a team which topped them by two points in the final regular season standings. SKA received a higher seeding due to winning the Bobrov division.

Game 1 of the second-round series is scheduled for Wednesday.


Utica Comets forward Jonah Gadjovich (left) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Laval Rocket in 2019.
Utica Comets forward Jonah Gadjovich (left) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Laval Rocket in 2019. Photo by Lindsay Mogle/Utica Comets /PNG

Utica Comets

A week which started with a 3-2 shootout win against Rochester on Wednesday ended soon after, with the Comets’ two remaining games on the schedule getting postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.

The American Hockey League made the announcement on Friday before Utica’s game against the Syracuse Crunch, which has been postponed to April 3. Saturday’s game against Rochester was also postponed, but has yet to be rescheduled.

The move comes after the AHL said Thursday that Rochester was affected by COVID-19 protocols.

The postponements come at an inopportune time for the Comets, who have started their season strong with a 6-2-0-1 record.

Power forward Jonah Gadjovich (2017, Rd. 2) continued to sizzle offensively, taking seven shots on net and scoring his eighth goal in nine games. This one, like so many others, was scored at the top of the crease, with the 6-foot-2, 209-pound left shot winger pounding away at a rebound until the puck crossed the goal-line.

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On the blue-line, standout defenceman Jack Rathbone (2017, Rd. 4) continued to look good, putting four shots on net and finishing the game with an even rating.

The Comets’ next scheduled game is Friday in Utica against Rochester.


2020 Vancouver Canucks draft pick Joni Jurmo in action for JYP of the Finnish Liiga.
2020 Vancouver Canucks draft pick Joni Jurmo in action for JYP of the Finnish Liiga. Photo by Jiri Halttunen/JYP team photogra /jpg

Joni Jurmo

Jurmo continued to impress in the second-tier Finnish Mestis league this past week, scoring a power play marker in one game and adding an assist in another.

The 6-foot-4, 198-pound left-shot defenceman, drafted in the third round in 2020, had a goal, four shots on target and an even rating in 12:08 in Kiekko-Espoo’s 5-3 win over Peliitat on Friday.

Jurmo’s goal came from the point, with the big defenceman leaning into a slap shot and ripping it past the goaltender.

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The 18-year-old notched an assist the next night, in a 4-2 win over K-Vantaa. Jurmo skated for 17:44 in the win and had two shots on goal.

What looked like a lost season with bottom-feeding JYP of the top-flight Finnish Liiga is looking anything but now for Jurmo, who is getting lots of ice time playing on Kiekko-Espoo’s second defensive pairing.

He has three goals, three assists and a plus-5 rating in eight Mestis league games this season.


Aidan McDonough celebrates after scoring a goal during the second period of the 2020 Beanpot Tournament Championship game between the Northeastern Huskies and the Boston University Terriers at TD Garden on February 10, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Aidan McDonough celebrates after scoring a goal during the second period of the 2020 Beanpot Tournament Championship game between the Northeastern Huskies and the Boston University Terriers at TD Garden on February 10, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Maddie Meyer /Getty Images

Aidan McDonough

A COVID-19 shortened NCAA season got even shorter for Mcdonough and the No. 20-ranked Northeastern Huskies, who were bounced 4-1 by No. 7-ranked UMass in the quarterfinals of the Hockey East Tournament on Sunday.

McDonough, a seventh-round pick in 2019, ended his season quietly, getting one shot on net and going a minus-1 while blocking three shots.

The 6-foot-2, 201-pound left-shot forward took some positive steps in his development this season, earning a trio of Hockey Easy awards, including the PNC Bank Three Stars Award this past week.

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The award commemorates the sophomore’s play over the course of the season, in which he tallied 10 goals and 10 assists in 20 games.

mraptis@postmedia.com

twitter.com/mike_raptis


Be sure to catch my interview on Sportsnet 650’s OT Show with Caroline Frolic, Lindsey Horsting and Lina Setaghian last week, where we talked about goaltender Mike DiPietro’s role on the Canucks’ taxi squad and much more.

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