The Andrei Kuzmenko trade was a resounding win for Craig Conroy

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Middleton
2 days ago
With the 2023-24 season over and the post-season underway, there is plenty to reminisce about and plenty to look forward to for the Calgary Flames. In this article, we will be doing a little bit of both as we look back at the trade deadline and what brought the Flames for the present and future.
By the time the deadline rolled around, general manager Craig Conroy felt that the only option was to move out as many pieces as possible, which meant Elias Lindholm, Chris Tanev, and Noah Hanifin would be on their way out.
Hanifin headed to the Vegas Golden Knights, Tanev went to the Dallas Stars, but the first domino to fall was just over a month before the deadline when Lindholm when he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks for Andrei Kuzmenko, Joni Jurmo, Hunter Brzustewicz, Vancouver’s 2024 first-round pick, and a 2024 fourth-round pick from the New Jersey Devils.
Brzustewicz might be the most intriguing piece of this deal. Still, the acquisition of Kuzmenko gave the Flames roster a considerable boost in scoring, which they desperately needed both at even strength and on the power play.
Kuzmenko struggled with the Canucks this season, putting him on the chopping block for general manager Patrik Allvin. He only scored eight goals and registered 13 assists for 21 points.
In comparison, Kuzmenko was a scoring machine during the 29 games he played since joining the Flames. He registered 25 points with 14 goals and 11 assists. His shooting percentage nearly doubled from 12.7 percent with Vancouver to 24.1 percent with the Flames.
When looking at the analytics side, Kuzmenko’s play was some of the best on the roster. Per Evolving-Hockey’s goals above replacement (GAR) metric, he launched his way up to fifth on the team with 8.3 behind Nazem Kadri (19.4), Hanifin (11.5), Connor Zary (10), and MacKenzie Weegar (9.2). In the expected goals above replacement (xGAR) category, he’s fourth behind Weegar, Yegor Sharangovich, and Blake Coleman.
The most significant impact he made was on the power play. He became a lethal option for players like Jonathan Huberdeau and even down low with the ability to create for himself, like on this goal:
Even his first goal as a member of the Flames came on the power play!
Andrei Kuzmenko scores his first goal as a Calgary Flame!
📽️: Sportsnet | NHL pic.twitter.com/88ovYDqCIp
— Robert Munnich (@RingOfFireCGY) February 7, 2024
As he adjusted to Ryan Huska’s system, he became more confident, especially toward the end of the season. He had an extremely impressive game against the St. Louis Blues, where plays like this felt routine:
And, of course, as he gained more confidence, he found the ability to create offense for others on the team. His career-high in assists was in his first season in the NHL as a 26-year-old when he tallied 35 in 81 games. If he had stayed at the same scoring pace over 81 games, he would have finished with 30 assists, which is just shy of his career-high.
Calgary goal!
Scored by Oliver Kylington with 16:07 remaining in the 2nd period.
Assisted by Andrei Kuzmenko.
Calgary: 3
San Jose: 0#SJSvsCGY #Flames #SJSharks pic.twitter.com/dkpNKjoYRU
— NHL Goals (@nhl_goal_bot) April 19, 2024
I referenced the game against the Blues, where he finished with two goals and arguably his best single-game performance of the season. Here is one of those goals: a very impressive pick-pocket and top-shelf finish:
Andrei Kuzmenko scores a beautiful goal! he ties things up! #Flames | #STLBlues
🎥: Sportsnet | NHL pic.twitter.com/cZBMxFNZ9w
— Robert Munnich (@RingOfFireCGY) March 29, 2024
Overall, the trade deadline was relatively successful for Conroy and the Flames. They acquired plenty of future assets and players who made an immediate impact, like Kuzmenko.
The Flames have Kuzmenko tied up for one more season at $5.5 million, and if he can continue being a threat all around the ice, he will be well worth the money that is owed to him. Acquiring him was a huge win for Conroy, the team, and the fans, who get to watch an exciting player every night.
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