Tryamkin making a big impression with Canucks

 

 
 
 
 
Vancouver Canucks' Nikita Tryamkin (88) takes down Winnipeg Jets' Nic Petan (19) during second period NHL hockey action in Winnipeg, Tuesday, March 22, 2016.
 

Vancouver Canucks' Nikita Tryamkin (88) takes down Winnipeg Jets' Nic Petan (19) during second period NHL hockey action in Winnipeg, Tuesday, March 22, 2016.

Photograph by: Trevor Hagan, Vancouver Sun

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ST.  LOUIS — If you can look past all the losing of late, there have actually been some positives for the Vancouver Canucks.

Rookie defenceman Ben Hutton continues to play like a seasoned veteran and is drawing top-pair minutes in the absence of Chris Tanev and Alex Edler.

Goaltenders Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom have been solid most nights.

And then there’s Nikita Tryamkin, the rookie Russian defenceman who arrived here earlier this month amidst some unrealistic expectations.

But after a nervous 12-second first shift in his Canuck debut, Tryamkin is showing that he perhaps deserved some of that hype. He has a long way to go to become the second coming of his idol, Zdeno Chara, but Tryamkin has turned some heads with his game.

“I didn’t expect him to maybe be quite this good,” says Canucks coach Willie Desjardins. “A lot of people expected him to come in and be unbelievable, but I didn’t. I thought that it’s a big step coming from Russia, he is only 21, he doesn’t have the language, but I have seen some good things.

“He has played well and when he first came over I said I hope he can be a No. 6 D and I think he has been able to do that and maybe a bit more for us.”

Tryamkin played his sixth NHL game Friday night against the St. Louis Blues. His minutes have increased after his 11-minute debut. Heading into Friday’s game, Tryamkin had averaged better than 20 minutes in his previous three games.

He has impressed the Canuck coaches and his teammates by playing to his strengths. He skates well, has a heavy shot and uses his enormous wingspan to his advantage to poke pucks off the sticks of opposition forwards.

“I think he is a pretty smart player in that he has been keeping his game simple, probably from what he has been used to in the KHL,” says veteran defenceman Dan Hamhuis, who has been serving as something of a mentor to Tryamkin. “He has come a long way from his first game and he is playing to his strengths out there. He is using his size and his reach to his advantage.”

It is Tryamkin’s size that makes him so intriguing. At 6-foot-7 and nearly 240 pounds, he packs a punch and seems to be as strong as a bull. During Thursday night’s game in Nashville, Tryamkin tossed Predators forward James Neal aside like he was a rag doll during a puck battle along the side boards.

“He has got a long reach and he’s heavy, he’s real heavy,” says Desjardins. “We have to be better at stopping the cycle and he’s a guy that can stop the cycle. He just has the size. We have been missing that all year and it’s nice to get a guy like that with his presence in the lineup.”

Tryamkin’s limited English remains a challenge. Fellow Russian teammate Andrey Pedan has been acting as an interpreter.

“There is certainly some times when he doesn’t understand,” Desjardins says. “I think on the 4-on-3 (overtime) kill at the end of the game (Thursday), he really wasn’t sure what we were doing … but for a guy coming over he has battled pretty hard and I think he has got better.”

bziemer@vancouversun.com

twitter.com/bradziemer

 
 
 
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Vancouver Canucks' Nikita Tryamkin (88) takes down Winnipeg Jets' Nic Petan (19) during second period NHL hockey action in Winnipeg, Tuesday, March 22, 2016.
 

Vancouver Canucks' Nikita Tryamkin (88) takes down Winnipeg Jets' Nic Petan (19) during second period NHL hockey action in Winnipeg, Tuesday, March 22, 2016.

Photograph by: Trevor Hagan, Vancouver Sun

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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