Andrei Kuzmenko Signing his Contract Extension in January of 2023

Time for another edition of Avid Thoughts, where I ramble on about whatever is happening in the world of sports. Well, if you are a Vancouver Canucks fan, it hasn’t been great. It hasn’t been great for a long time and the 6-1 drubbing at the hands of the Seattle Kraken is another painful game in a painful era.

At this point, discussing what happens in the actual games isn’t much of a talking point. What is a talking point among Canucks fans is trade rumours and contracts. Well, mostly trade rumours, especially with Bo Horvat being a pending UFA.

Some Canucks news did drop on Thursday so let’s talk about it.

Andrei Kuzmenko extends for two years

The team announced that Andrei Kuzmenko has signed a new contract worth 5.5 million dollars for the next two seasons.

Let’s face it, Kuzmenko has been very good. Sure, playing with Elias Pettersson is a huge reason why but he has settled in nicely in Vancouver.

He has 21 goals and 22 assists in 47 games and is tied for third in points with Quinn Hughes. (43 points.) The fact that he is 18th in the NHL in even strength points is also impressive.

I do like Kuzmenko and what he has brought to the team. His scoring and personality have been a breath of fresh air. He has a 25% shooting percentage and that isn’t sustainable. Sure Are the Canucks going to be competing for a Stanley Cup in the next two years? No.

Is the contract good? Absolutely. I have no issue with the term and AAV.

But the 26-year-old (turning 27 on February 4) had high trade value and we all know the Canucks can’t afford to keep this team together and aren’t good enough.

Would they have gotten him for a haul? Maybe, due to his cap hit (But remember he hasn’t played a full NHL season) but a late first or second-round pick would have likely come back. But draft picks take time to develop and some never work out, you say. That’s true but a late first or a second gives you a chance at getting a good player that can be a big part of your future.

Just like the JT Miller extension, this feels like a missed opportunity for the Canucks to take a step in the right direction. The player deserves the contract but for the franchise? It doesn’t fit. Basically, the Canucks are signing Kuzmenko to a good contract but at the wrong time.

If the Canucks are still bad next season, (which is very likely) trading Kuzmenko will be harder because of his cap hit.

Well, at least we’ll get to this smile for the next two seasons so there’s that. I mean, how can you not love Kuzmenko?

Also, the fact that his childhood friend is in his family’s thank you letter shows what kind of person Kuzmenko is. Also, Turpal must be a really good friend.

For the record, I do love watching Kuzmenko and I hope continues to score more goals with the Canucks. But at the same time, trading him would have been the better option.

It feels like one step forward, and two steps back with this team once again. Extending Kuzmenko does not get the Canucks out of the hole but they keep digger deeper.

Oh yeah, Kuzmenko’s extension means it seems more and more likely that Horvat will be traded. 

Quiet from the Whitecaps

The Vancouver Whitecaps have returned from Spain and are training in Vancouver and will depart for Palm Springs, California on January 30. There, they will face other MLS clubs as part of the preseason.

The Whitecaps have only signed defenders Mathias Laborda (free from Nacional in Uruguay) and Karifa Yao who they took in the MLS Re-Entry Draft.

We all know the Whitecaps need a striker and a goalkeeper.

The club was linked to Wolfsberger’s Tai Baribo but there hasn’t been anything reported about him in about a week. Maybe they

Whitecaps sporting director and CEO Axel Schuster spoke to JJ Adams of The Province about a new striker. He said they want someone “high in the shelf.” That makes sense for a designated player.

It also makes sense because the striker the Whitecaps need has to make the most out of the service from players Ryan Gauld, Julian Gressel and Alessandro Schöpf. He also needs to be a consistent goal scorer and hopefully with some pace.

Those words from Schuster likely mean they are still looking at their options. There is time but it is still ticking as we are less than a month away from the season.

Strikers “high in the shelf” are usually available in the summer window and the Whitecaps can’t wait that long. But Schuster has stressed in the past about signing the right player, not the first one. That is a good mindset to have but they only have a few weeks left to find the right player.

As for goalkeepers, the Whitecaps have been linked to Yohei Takaoka of Yokohama F. Marinos. Takaoka was second in the Japanese League in clean sheets with 13 and was on the league’s best starting XI last season. He also led Yokohama F. Marinos to the league title.

The Whitecaps need a goalkeeper who is of starting calibre and Takaoka seems to fit the profile.

Thomas Hasal can be a good MLS goalkeeper but that will be a few years in the future, not this year. Takaoka would be a good mentor and potentially provide the saves the Whitecaps have been missing last season.

You can’t help but feel a bit concerned a striker and a goalkeeper haven’t been signed yet. There is still time but the Whitecaps need these two players if they want any hope of getting back to the playoffs

Championship Sunday

So we are down to the NFL’s final four. Championship Sunday will feature the Philadelphia Eagles against the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs playing the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Eagles ended up blowing out the New York Giants while the 49ers got by the Dallas Cowboys. What were the Cowboys thinking on the final play of the game? Instead of throwing it downfield, Dak Prescott threw it short. That had to be a worse ending to the Cowboys’ season than last year’s which was against the 49ers.

Jalen Hurts has been phenomenal for the Eagles but the 49ers have one of the best defences in the league. Both teams are great on the running game with Philadelphia having Miles Sanders and the 49ers having Christian McCaffrey.

Devonta Smith and AJ Brown lead the way as Hurts’ lead weapons but we can’t count out George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.

I feel the NFC Championship game is going to be close. But I’ll take the Eagles.

The AFC Championship game could depend on one thing: Patrick Mahomes’ status. He sprained his ankle against the Jacksonville Jaguars last week and is practicing. Even if he does play, he won’t be 100%.

For the Bengals, they managed to outclass the Buffalo Bills. Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, Ja’Marr Chase and the others are looking to make it to the Super Bowl for the second straight year.

Depending on Mahomes’ status, I’m picking the Bengals. Mahomes is a game-changer and the Chiefs may not be the same without him.

Let’s not forget that Joe Burrow is pretty good too.

An interesting question

So @CSWCAndy asked this interesting question which I took some time to think about.

So I will be going to sleep in the item, working out in the item and even going to the bathroom in the item.

I think I’ll go with the shorts. For starters, wearing a sweatshirt all the time causes a lot of sweat. Showering with one on would feel even worse. At least with shorts, I can still wear whatever I want over my chest.

I am assuming I can’t wear anything over the shorts (or sweatshirt if you choose that option.) so that means I’ll have to wear them even when it is cold outside. That’s a downside. I do hope Andy means I can change the shorts but have to wear them all the time. Wearing the same pair of shorts all the time isn’t…going to go well.

The biggest reason why I’m picking shorts is that I always found sweatshirts uncomfortable for some reason. Maybe because the ones I wore when I was younger always felt itchy.

So that concludes this edition of Avid Thoughts! Check back next time!