4 Reasons Why the Blackhawks Should Trade for Andrei Kuzmenko

Andrei Kuzmenko in a game against the New York Islanders
Andrei Kuzmenko in a game against the New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Last season, Vancouver Canucks winger Andrei Kuzmenko took the NHL by storm, tallying 39 goals and 74 points in 81 games. Midway through the 2022-2023 season, Canucks General Manager Patrik Allvin rewarded Kuzmenko for his play and inked him to a two-year, $11 million contract extension. The Russian looked primed to be a key member of a strong core in Vancouver that boasted the likes of Quinn Hughes, Elias Pettersson, JT Miller, and Thatcher Demko.

The Canucks have been the surprise of the 2023-2024 season. Many projected them to be a fringe playoff team. Yet, as of January 19th, they rank first in the NHL in points and third in points percentage. Miller, Pettersson, and Hughes all sit in the top thirteen in league scoring, and Demko ranks third in wins among goaltenders. How is Kuzmenko performing on this powerhouse of a team, you may ask? Abysmally.

Kuzmenko has scored just 8 goals and 19 points in 39 games and is on pace for a measly 37 points, exactly half as many as he produced last season. He is averaging 14:34 of ice time a game compared to 16:14 last season, his shooting percentage has dropped 14% (though he did score at an unsustainably high 27.3% clip last season), and he has found his name swirling in trade rumors.

Something has to give in Vancouver, so why should GM Kyle Davidson trade for the 27-year-old winger?

Kuzmenko clearly needs a change of scenery.

The Blackhawks have a track record of taking chances on highly touted players who were underperforming. At times, this has worked swimmingly, such as in Dylan Strome’s case where he recorded 51 points in 58 games upon his arrival. At other times, it hasn’t been so successful, like when the Hawks traded for Alex Nylander who spent a mediocre year in Chicago before he was demoted to Rockford and eventually traded.

Kuzmenko has lost the trust of Canucks coach Rick Tocchet and his confidence is plummeting. The Hawks can offer Kuzmenko more even strength and power play ice time, and he won’t be under as much pressure to perform on a team bound for the bottom of the standings. Davidson should take a chance on Kuzmenko and hope he can find his game in Chicago like Strome.