Each and every week, I will be featuring the Vancouver Canucks’ top three prospects. Here’s a look at who stood out in week 24.
This week the featured prospects for the Vancouver Canucks all play in various leagues in Europe. Two are Swedish players not named Nils Hoglander, while the other has carried his late regular-season success over to the Kontinental Hockey League playoffs.
1. Arvid Costmar
Canucks’ prospect Arvid Costmar continued his assault on opponents in the J20 SuperElit league this past week. Costmar completed a rare feat recently in a four-goal performance. The seventh-round selection at the 2019 NHL draft, scored the first of those goals shorthanded. The second tally came on the power play, the third at even strength, with the fourth, scored into the empty net. Linkopings won the game 7-3. Costmar also added a primary power play assist in the game.
Costmar provided another goal in Linkopings’ next contest, opening the scoring in what proved to be a 5-4 shootout decision over Orebro. In the 11 games that Costmar has played in the Top Ten winner’s stage competition, he has amassed 22 points, leading all players in points-per-game with 2.0 while sitting second in overall scoring.
Costmar plays a complete all-around game while he leads this stage of the competition with three shorthanded goals. He also is among the leaders in faceoff efficiency, a 59.02% success rate. His four power play tallies are just one off the lead as well, while his overall goal total of 14 tops the league.
Costmar is likely to see regular duty in the Swedish Hockey League next season, as well as representing Sweden at the 2021 World Junior Championships.
2. Vasili Podkolzin
The regular season reached its’ conclusion in the KHL this week, and the playoffs are underway. SKA St. Petersburg finished second in the West Conference, a mere one point back of CSKA Moscow.
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Their opening-round series versus Vityaz began on Sunday with SKA winning convincingly 6-1. Vasili Podkolzin showed his prominence throughout the match. He finished the game with one assist, which came on the power play.
Podkolzin was providing a net-front presence when the puck deflected and bounced off him and laid at his feet. He cleverly made a pass through his legs to an open teammate, at the side of the net, who then buried the puck into the open side of the cage.
Many Canucks’ fans displayed great concern over the deployment of Podkolzin early in the season, with his lack of ice-time and the bearing it may have on his development. That worry need not be. He appears to have the trust of his coach, receiving 12:25 of ice time coming from 16 shifts in the playoff opener.
There are many facets of Podkolzin’s game to get fans excited. Each time he jumps over the boards, he does so with unbridled enthusiasm, racing to get involved in the play. His work ethic, particularly along the boards, is commendable, as is his defensive awareness. His hockey IQ is well above average, and he displays terrific vision in finding open teammates.
Although only 18-years-old, and playing in a men’s league, he never shies away from confrontation and often initiates those battles. Podkolzin occasionally stands up for linemates that have been roughed up and received recognition from his teammates upon returning to the bench.
Earlier in the week, in the second to last regular season contest, Podkolzin chipped in with two assists in a 6-1 victory versus Jokerit.
3. Linus Karlsson
Another of the Canucks’ Swedish prospects that have played well of late is Linus Karlsson. Karlsson acquired in the trade that saw disgruntled former Canucks’ prospect Jonathan Dahlen dealt away to the San Jose Sharks organization.
Although Karlsson does not have the same offensive skills as Dahlen, he does offer a better all-around game. Karlsson, initially drafted in the third round of the 2018 NHL draft by the Sharks, has discovered an offensive scoring touch of late. Particularly, since his transfer to BIK Karlskoga, where he has accumulated 16 points in the ten games that he’s played.
In two matches this past week, Karlsson managed to produce four points, with three of those coming in his most recent game. The first of his goals came in a 4-2 victory versus Sodertalje on Wednesday, where he scored the insurance goal in the third period, with a slick between-the-legs shot. In the second game on Friday, Karlsson’s goal gave Karlskoga a 2-1 second-period lead and then added assists on the next goal, as well as the overtime game-winner in a 4-3 decision over Vasteras. BIK Karlskoga currently sits in the fourth position in the Allsvenskan standings.
The regular season is now over, and the Harvard University Crimson finished fifth in the ECAC conference, missing out on an opening-round bye. Jack Rathbone added two assists, both coming with the man advantage, in a 4-1 decision over Union College to close out the season. Harvard now plays a best-of-three series versus St. Lawrence beginning next Friday.
The Crimson has slipped dramatically in the pair-wise rankings and are unlikely to advance to the NCAA playoffs unless they win the ECAC conference playoffs. Rathbone has not yet announced his intentions for next season. However, in my opinion, the Rathbone watch is now officially on.
Please check back next week to see which of these Vancouver Canucks’ talents will be featured.