Nikita Tryamkin ditches Canucks to return to Russia

A week ago Trevor Linden was touting Nikita Tryamkin as an emerging star, a big part of the Vancouver Canucks' promised brighter future.

The big Russian, it seems, had other plans. 

Tryamkin has signed on with his hometown KHL team — Yekaterinburg Automobilist — leaving a king sized hole in the Canucks lineup. 

It was no secret the 22-year-old was unhappy with his lack of ice time in Vancouver, something he mentioned in an interview with a Russian newspaper published Thursday. 

"Sometimes I just did not understand why. I could play 20 minutes, I could play 16, I could play 12. And on what it depended, I did not understand," said Tryamkin, according to Google translate.

The six foot seven inch Tryamkin averaged 16:44 minutes per game of ice time this past season.

2-year extension turned down

Canucks General Manager Jim Benning said Tryamkin turned down a two year contract extension. 

"We are disappointed Nikita chose to sign in the KHL, but also recognize from what he told us in our exit meetings that this was a family decision first. He has a chance to be an impact player in the NHL. But for now he is home and we will move ahead with building this team with other young players," said Benning in a statement.

Tryamkin's physical fitness was an issue when the season began and in October he refused to be sent down to the minor league Utica Comets for a conditioning assignment, as was his right according to his contract.

But during the final months of the Canucks' season Tryamkin's big league and big body potential began to shine through, making him a fan favourite at Rogers Arena.

Tryamkin was selected 66th overall by Vancouver in the 2014 NHL entry draft and was a restricted free agent.