Vancouver Canucks’ Vasili Podkolzin: Drafting a Russian Bulldog

6 minutes read

In a daring transfer, given rumors that his job is on the road, Vancouver Canucks normal supervisor Jim Benning selected Vasili Podkolzin because the staff’s 10th choose within the NHL Entry Draft. We’ll have to attend two years to know, however did the Canucks simply draft Elias Pettersson’s subsequent right-winger? If that’s the case, look out NHL.

Podkolzin was obtainable as a result of he stays underneath contract in Russia for 2 extra seasons. Nonetheless, Benning was trying to the Canucks’ future and, like me, will need to have been asking himself whether or not, in three seasons, this selection at choose #10 may need the potential to change into a part of the very best line in Canucks historical past?

Though he’s solely 17 years previous, this younger right-winger performed a part of final season for St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). That’s fairly an accomplishment. By doing so, he grew to become the primary participant born within the 21st century to play within the KHL.

What Is Podkolzin’s Expertise?

Podkolzin’s expertise implies that, when he involves the Canucks for the 2021-22 season, he ought to hit the ice flying. He’ll be prepared for prime time. He performed Russian skilled hockey for SKA-1946 of the Russian Junior Hockey League. On Nov. 12, 2018, he made his KHL debut with SKA Saint Petersburg. He cut up final season between three Russian leagues: the MHL (junior), VHL (Supreme, second highest stage in Russia), and the KHL (the best stage). He performed effectively in any respect three ranges.

Most of his time was spent at Russia’s second stage, the place he scored two targets and 5 factors in 14 video games. The VHL is Russia’s model of the AHL. What’s particular about Podkolzin is that he’s been taking part in with older, much more skilled gamers.

Undoubtedly Benning had seen Podkolzin play as a result of the 6-foot-1, 196-pound winger was a member of Russia’s staff that gained bronze on the World Juniors in Vancouver final December and January.

In 2018, Podkolzin additionally was captain of the bronze-medal profitable Staff Russia within the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. Within the bronze medal sport in opposition to Staff USA, Podkolzin scored a hat trick in a 5–four victory. He led the match in scoring with eight targets, three assists and 11 whole factors in 5 video games.

What Form of a Participant is Podkolzin?

Podkolzin is a left-hand shot who’s often known as a fearless offensive participant. That he fell to the quantity 10 has extra to do along with his contract than his talent. He was ranked because the quantity two European skater on the NHL Central Scouting prospect record.

Podkolzin is an elite-level expertise who will get within the faces of opponents. In 2019, Elite Prospects lauded his skill as a “expert winger who performs with an edge. Podkolzin combines his nice hockey sense, puck dealing with and capturing with an aggressive, in-your-face, sort of sport. He competes arduous, is tough to play in opposition to and has the instruments to be a excessive scoring participant.”

Together with being a strong scorer, he’s additionally an awesome draft choose for the Canucks due to his bulldog nature. Though, I’m participating in future fantasies of Canucks hockey, Podkolzin performs with the form of edge that may create area for Pettersson. Moreover, given his skill to complete, he provides Pettersson an outlet that advantages the younger Swede’s on-ice imaginative and prescient and passing skill. I can solely suppose Benning shares my imaginative and prescient of a doable Pettersson-Podkolzin future pairing.

That Podkolzin will likely be taking part in two extra seasons within the KHL just isn’t the tip of the world for the Canucks. Certainly, he’ll profit from the elite competitors the place he ought to have the ability to refine his offensive zone entry, stick dealing with, and his skill to answer the speedy NHL sport that awaits him with the Canucks.

He’s a bodily participant, even in opposition to older gamers. He’s loaded with expertise, all of which he’ll hone taking part in in mom Russia. In some ways, his expertise there’ll permit him to come back to North America and the Canucks much more ready than if he performed with the Utica Comets for 2 seasons.

Except some deal is reached, Podkolzin gained’t be taking part in skilled hockey in North America till the 2021-22 season. Drafting him was a gutsy transfer by Benning. Discuss after the 2018-19 season ended was that his job could be on the road if the staff didn’t enhance – and shortly. Benning selected the longer term. I respect that.

What Do Hockey Pundits Say?

Coming into the draft, many hockey pundits ranked Podkolzin extremely. Listed below are a few of their notes.

“Podkolzin checks all of the intangible blocks, as he could be counted on to handle a wide range of his coach’s issues. What separates him from all the opposite “toolsy” forwards is that he can both create or end performs whereas travelling at most pace, and his sturdy stability and stickhandling appear to persuade defenders to again off greater than they need to. Podkolzin is efficient each in open ice and through trench warfare, and he’s able to finishing on-the-tape passes that lead on to high quality probabilities close to the web..” – Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst

Vasily Podkolzin of SKA St. Petersburg (photograph courtesy SKA)

“An absolute pit bull. Podkolzin
affords high-end offensive consciousness, lightning fast palms and a
confrontational fashion. Regardless of some muted level totals coming from his membership
staff, he’s made a behavior of displaying up in a giant manner on the worldwide stage.
A possible high-end producer within the NHL. – Cam Robinson, Dobber Prospects

“Podkolzin may be very expert and may make the flashy performs to deke defenders, however he not often does that off a standstill or alongside the partitions. As a substitute, Podkolzin is often full pace forward to the web. He’s additionally an excellent playmaker and finisher who can make the most of area if defenders give it to him by making a move or sniping from a distance. He’s a nice/good skater however hustles so arduous that he seems like he’s at all times going quick. _(from ‘Pronman: 2019 NHL Draft midseason rankings’, The AthleticNHL – 1/29/19)

Podkolzin Choose Was Benning Swinging for the Fences

What impresses me about Benning’s draft choose was that he didn’t play it protected. He may need gone for a safer choose, a participant who may be a part of the staff a lot sooner. As a substitute, he selected a participant who most likely has two extra seasons earlier than even sporting a Canucks uniform.

Normal supervisor Jim Benning of the Vancouver Canucks. (Photograph by Dave Sandford/NHLI through Getty Pictures)

By selecting Podkolzin, the Canucks picked the prospect with the best ceiling similar to they did two years in the past with the Pettersson choose. He may need been the third finest participant within the draft, and he’s now a Canuck.

I encourage different Canucks followers to be affected person; this draft choose may grow to be a steal for the staff.

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