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Andrei Kuzmenko couldn’t wait.

Fresh off of a whirlwind recruiting tour across North America, Kuzmenko returned to Moscow. He’d been to such iconic, far-flung locales as South Beach, Ann Arbor, Vancouver and the Joey’s in downtown Edmonton.

It was a dizzying journey. The original plan laid out by Kuzmenko’s representatives called for the skilled 26-year-old Russian winger to wait until midweek before making his decision — to settle in, digest what he’d seen and been told, and process his options with his family before deciding which NHL team to commit to.

Kuzmenko’s mind was made up though. He didn’t need to wait, or indulge in any further sober reflection.

The Vancouver Canucks were feeling confident following Kuzmenko’s weekend visit. General manager Patrik Allvin — who had tracked the player closely for the better part of a decade — had flown into Vancouver to play host to Kuzmenko’s camp. In typical Canucks style, Kuzmenko and his agents were wined and dined at a variety of TopTable fixtures, including Blue Water Cafe plus Elisa.

Ownership was involved in the process, although chairman Francesco Aquilini was out of town during Kuzmenko’s visit.

By Saturday evening, the club believed they’d landed their man.

On Sunday, Kuzmenko’s representatives knew the outcome, and on Monday morning, Kuzmenko notified the world in an Instagram post that he was taking his talents to False Creek and committing to sign with the Canucks .

The accelerated pace of Kuzmenko’s decision reflected the strong impression that Vancouver had made on the top European free agent.

And in truth, it reflected the extent to which Kuzmenko’s mind had already been made up in the final week of the process.

While Kuzmenko continued on to final interviews with several remaining clubs, the Canucks had laid the ground work, paving the way for Kuzmenko’s urgency, the week prior during a meeting in Ann Arbor, Mich.

At that meeting, attended by Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau, who drove nearly seven hours from his offseason home near Hershey, Pa., and Allvin, who drove nearly four hours from Pittsburgh, the particular Canucks laid out their plan for Kuzmenko.

Despite industry rumours that Kuzmenko’s camp was seeking a guarantee of games played, a top-six role, power-play opportunity and details on what the framework of an extension beyond next season might look like, multiple sources familiar with negotiations insisted to The Athletic on Monday that no guarantees were made.

That might stretch the bounds of credulity, considering how laden with falsehoods the recruiting process can be across professional sports, but in truth, the lack of guarantees is in line with a hard stance that the Canucks held firm in order to during their ultimately fruitless pursuit of several top NCAA free agents this past spring as well. Allvin, who ran point in many of those recruitment meetings in April and May, has been steadfast in his refusal to make roster spot promises or even guarantee ice time.

It’s believed to have cost the club, within at least one instance.

On that fateful mid-June Friday in Michigan, however , the club’s honesty wasn’t a setback. It helped, perhaps, that Boudreau and Allvin, earnest in their belief that Kuzmenko’s playmaking will be a power-play weapon right off of the hop at the NHL level, laid out a path for Kuzmenko to make an impact in his first season. Allvin also focused on how Kuzmenko could fit into the club’s long-term plans, provided he earned a spot and made an impact, beyond next season.

The impressions that Boudreau and Allvin made were ultimately decisive with regard to Kuzmenko and his camp upon shepherding him into a commitment with the Canucks. There’s a particular familiarity between Allvin plus Kuzmenko, one source close to the negotiation described them as having “a good connection, ” dating back years to when Allvin was using the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.

From day one of this process, when nearly two-thirds of NHL teams had been jockeying in pursuit of the experienced playmaking winger, the Canucks were high on Kuzmenko’s list of teams to consider. That’s in part because the player knew that will Allvin believed in and trusted his skill.

“Andrei felt right about Vancouver, ” a source close to the player told The Athletic .

By the time the particular Ann Arbor meeting concluded, Kuzmenko was sold on joining the Canucks organization. This individual still intended to honour commitments made to other finalists, but from that point on, the Canucks were no longer prohibitive favourites   but were firmly in the driver’s seat to land the player.

There are still hurdles to clear. While Kuzmenko is committed to Vancouver and will sign officially with the club when the market opens on July 13, the contract isn’t yet signed.

Kuzmenko is only eligible to indication an one-year entry-level contract, which means the final terms associated with his agreement is paint by numbers, although there’s new plus modestly elevated thresholds .

Kuzmenko will surely get a max annual average value ($950k), a standard $95, 000 signing bonus, and potentially max Schedule A performance bonuses ($1 million) or close to it. Neither side of the negotiation would comment on whether Schedule B bonuses might be included in the deal or a sticking point in negotiations, but those bonuses can total an additional $2. 5 million if they’re maxed out.

Maximum Schedule B bonuses are very rare for European free agents. They tend to be reserved for first overall picks, star NCAA players with August 15 leverage or high pedigree draft picks who absolutely lay waste to their respective major junior, college or professional leagues. Artemi Panarin ’s two-year, entry-level deal with the Chicago Blackhawks included a nearly maximum slate of Schedule B bonuses when he signed with Chicago within 2015, however , so while they’re unlikely to factor into these talks, they are not entirely unheard of.

The deal, however , is a formality at this stage. Kuzmenko will be committed to the Canucks; the particular Canucks are committed to the gamer.

On the day that Allvin was introduced in Vancouver this individual vowed that recruiting NCAA and European free agents would be a major plank of his strategy . That these unconventional fishing holes might offer the club a path toward replenishing their depth of talent.

On Monday, as Kuzmenko posed for a photograph signing a prop piece of paper while wearing a No . 96 Canucks jersey, Allvin experienced delivered — both on his vow, and the top Western free agent this offseason.

(Photo: Maksim Konstantinov / SOPA Image / Sipa USA)

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