It seems that the first casualty of the NHL’s decision to withhold players from the 2018 Winter Olympics will be defenseman Nikita Tryamkin of the Vancouver Canucks.
Tryamkin was given a not-insignificant role with the Canucks in his first North American season this past year. Now, he’s headed back home.
The Russian-born blue liner confirmed this week, via the KHL’s official Twitter account, that he’ll return to the KHL after just one North American season to play with his hometown team of Yekaterinburg Avtomobilist once again.
Drafted 66th overall by the Canucks in 2014, Tryamkin skated for Yekaterinburg for his development years rather than heading over to North America to either play juniors or skate in the minors in his post-draft seasons.
He made his way over to the Canucks this past spring, inking a two year deal with the Pacific Division club and jumping into the lineup immediately. This past year, he put up two goals and nine points in 66 regular season games, skating out for almost 17 minutes a night.
For the Canucks, this is a depth loss at the most, but it’s still a departure from a player who had just made his way into the lineup – and whom the club had given no indication of being displeased with.
This should help Avtomobilist return to a playoff berth after a close miss this year. More importantly for Tryamkin, though, it gives the 6-f00t-7 defenseman a chance to snag an Olympic spot left vacant by the NHL’s refusal to loan players to the international tournament.