An abrasive, two-way winger with tantalizing offensive upside. A thorn in the side of every opponent.
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March 2022 – As expected, Podkolzin walked onto a spot among the Canucks 2021-22 roster. Of course, as is the case with many 20-year-old rookies, he did not storm onto the scene with blistering numbers or high ice-time totals. However, overall, has had no issues fitting in, looking more comfortable as the games go by. Throughout the season, the club’s line combinations have been run through a blender, however, Podkolzin has consistently hovered in and around the 12-minute mark with sporadic increases every few games. No, his 0.30 point-per-game clip may not equate to a Calder Trophy-worthy campaign. Yet, going forward, it is clear that his strong two-way presence will be a welcomed and valued addition to the Canucks core. Dave Hall
April 2021 – Canucks fans can rest easy, Vasili Podkolzin is a free man. Wrapping up a compelling sophomore season with SKA St.Petersburg, the 20-year-old’s KHL contract has officially expired. Despite his struggles to stay relevant within the lineup during the regular season, the workhorse winger made steady strides in his game in 2020-21, capped off by a stellar playoff bout. Following an 11 points regular season campaign (35 games), the former first-rounder found a new gear during the postseason, tying that total (11) in just 16 matches. He wrapped up the playoffs as the club’s top producer and saw much more consistent minutes in all situations. He leaves the KHL in a tie with Rangers prospect, Vitaly Kravtsov, for most (U20) points in a single postseason (all-time). Not only did he perform well on the scoresheet, but his notable work ethic shun bright, as usual. His two-way mindset is what separates him from the rest of the pack, as he shows tireless effort on the ice – challenging puck carriers and serving as a constant headache for defenders. Contrary to what many had hoped, fans will have to wait until the 2021-22 campaign to enjoy his anticipated debut. Due to an unfavorable timeline, the logistics do not line up for him to make his way across the pond to wrap up the Canucks season. Instead, he is likely to suit up for Team Russia at this year’s World Championship, and sign his ELC during the off-season. He is close to a shoo-in for deployment in the middle-six come October and continues to carry tremendous fantasy value. Dave Hall
January 2021 – Things did not go as planned for the Russian squad. A decisive loss at the hands of Team Canada sent them to the Bronze medal game where they lost a tight one to the Finns. As the captain, Podkolzin accepted a large share of responsibility for the disappointing finish. On a personal level, the 19-year-old played a heavy, impactful two-way game. However, the points did not flow as we expected. It’s another example of him failing to light up the scoresheet in a long list of examples. However, he was consistently setting up teammates with pro-level, high-danger passes that were failed to be converted. What did come out of the event was Canucks GM, Jim Benning confirmed that the 2019 10th overall selection would be freed from his KHL contract as of April 30th and the Canucks intend to sign and immediately slide him into their lineup. His brand of hockey should blend extremely well with Canucks captain Bo Horvat. Those two should cause fits down low on the cycle for years to come. Cam Robinson
November 2020 – The Canucks top prospect is in line for a reprieve. As he departs from his club team in Russia and heads over to participate in the Karjala Cup with the ‘National Team’. I use quotes because Russia is sending their U20’s as a tune-up ahead of the WJC next month. Podkolzin will captain that squad. He’ll see all of the offensive minutes and (hopefully) rediscover some of that scoring punch he’s displayed at previous international tournaments. The plan remains in place for the 19-year-old to cross and sign his entry-level contract at the conclusion of the KHL campaign. The Canucks and fantasy owners can’t wait. Cam Robinson
August 2020 – The KHL friendly matches have begun and we’re starting to get a gauge on where some younger players will be slotting into the lineup. For Podkolzin, he ended last season with a bang, producing points, earning more trust and leaping in the proper direction. Early on, it appears that the kids are alright. Podkolzin, Morozov and Marchenko have seen time together at even-strength and look dangerous as a bottom-six unit. The recently-turned 19-year-old is also appearing to be a major component of the team’s penalty-killing group and has been seeing time on both power-play units. These are excellent signs for the second-year Russian pro.
Only three U20 KHL skaters have produced more than 30 points in a season – Evgeni Kuznetsov (x2), Eeli Tolvanen, and Kirill Kaprizov. It’s a difficult bar to reach especially playing on a stacked up SKA club that will still keep his minutes down a bit. But that should be the lofty expectation for Podkolzin in the 2020-21 campaign. If there’s a real season that is. Can’t forget that preface. Cam Robinson
April 2020 – Just like the rest of the world, Podkolzin’s season ended abruptly thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet the halt does little to diminish his 18-year-old campaign. After struggling to find a role through the first half of the season – going pointless through the first 17 games, the Canucks 2019 first-round pick managed to record eight points in his final 13 regular-season contests and three points in four playoff games. His ice time grew right along with his production. These are tremendous signs for such a young player in the world’s second-best league. There’s a reasonable chance he would’ve participated for the Russian’s at the men’s World Championships as well if it were not cancelled. Expect the bullish winger to see his role elevate further with SKA next season. Then, it should be off to Vancouver at the conclusion of his KHL deal. Cam Robinson
January 2020 – Podkolzin is beginning to figure out the KHL. The 18-year-old is currently riding a four-game point streak (2+2) and is seeing over 11 minutes of ice on a nightly basis after wallowing as the 13th forward for so long. You can see the energy in his game as he’s used a successful WJC performance to springboard up the lineup in SKA. Cam Robinson
January 2020 – Podkolzin returns to Russia with a silver medal and a boatload of missed opportunities. The 18-year-old forward was one of Russia’s best at the most recent World Junior Championships. He finished the event with five points in seven games but could have easily doubled that amount. He consistently set up his mates for grade A chances but they were rarely converted. The national team relied heavily on the 2019 10th overall selection at both ends of the rink. He was a monster defensively and consistently led all forwards in ice time. Podkolzin will return for a third and final U20 tournament next year where he’ll be considered one of the front-runners for the MVP award. Cam Robinson
October 2019 – Podkolzin is starting to get his feet under himself this season. The Canucks’ top prospect began his season in the KHL, however, he was unable to find much ice playing in SKA – a historically strong KHL squad. After 10 pointless contests and bouncing between the VHL, and Russian junior league (MHL), the 18-year-old seems to be settling into a top-six role with the VHL club. His brand of skilled, powerful, and reliable play has been evident throughout all three leagues, but his offensive development clearly benefits from seeing more than five minutes per night. Podkolzin should step back into the spotlight at the upcoming WJC where he’ll be looked at to provide a spark in all-situations as a returning player. Cam Robinson
June 2019 – The Vancouver Canucks selected Podkolzin with the 10th overall selection of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. The club will wait at least two years for the winger to fulfill his commitment to SKA of the KHL. Podkolzin brings a feisty, abrasive, skillful game to the rink. He blends quick hands, sharp cuts, and a plus-release. Maintaining composure and channelling his energy into the appropriate spaces on the ice will be his next hurdle to climb. He has a unique complement of skills that have the potential to be dominant at the next level. Cam Robinson
June 2019 – Podkolzin was officially measured at 6-foot-0.75 and 196 pounds at the NHL Draft Combine. Jokke Nevalainen
November 2018 – Podkolzin started his draft season with a great performance at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup where he scored eight goals and three assists in just five games. He was also the team captain in that tournament. Podkolzin has all the offensive tools needed to become an elite-level player. He has great top speed and he can make plays at high speed. He’s capable of making quick turns. His shot is amazing but he also has the vision and passing skills to be a good playmaker. His one-on-one skills are great as well. On top of all that, he has good size (6-1, 190) and he isn’t afraid to use it. He can power his way to the net at the junior level, and when he adds more muscle to his frame, he can do that at the pro level as well. The Russian factor may cause Podkolzin to drop in the NHL Entry Draft and you may need to wait a couple of years while he develops in Russia but his offensive upside is one of the highest in this draft class. Jokke Nevalainen