The Vancouver Canucks have made their first big move of the offseason.
On Sunday morning, general manager Jim Benning announced that the team had signed prospect Vasily Podkolzin to a three-year entry level contract.
There has been a lot of hype for the 19-year-old right winger, who was selected tenth overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Podkolzin stands in at 6’1 and 190 pounds, and brings a good combination of size and speed to his game, two factors that the current roster could benefit from on a more consistent basis.
Podkolzin spent the last three seasons playing for SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL, where he recorded seven goals and 12 assists over 68 contests. Not exactly eye-popping numbers, but it’s important to remember that Podkolzin was often one of the youngest players on the roster during his KHL tenure, and is still developing his overall game. He also had limited ice time on numerous occasions.
Fortunately, it appears that Podkolzin knows how to make an impact on the biggest stages when it’s needed most.
This past season, he posted a team-high 11 points in 16 playoff games, helping lead his club all the way to the conference finals. His biggest moment came in game five, scoring the triple-overtime winner to keep his team’s Gagarin Cup hopes alive. They were eventually eliminated in six games by CSKA Moscow, but Podkolzin was easily one of the most dominant players for St. Petersburg in that series. He finished the playoffs tied for seventh in league scoring.
Podkolzin has also had an impressive international hockey record so far.
The soon-to-be-20-year-old has represented Team Russia at the IIHF World Junior Championships for three consecutive years, and also served as their team captain this past tournament. Over that span, he recorded three goals and nine assists in 21 games, helping his country come away with medals on two separate occasions.
He captured bronze in 2019, with his team defeating Switzerland by a score of 5-2, and followed that up with a silver medal in 2020, falling to Akil Thomas and Team Canada in heart-breaking, come-from-behind fashion.
Podkolzin also represented his country at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in 2018, posting a tournament-high 11 points in five games and once again serving as team captain. His team captured bronze that year.
Terms of Podkolzin’s entry level deal were not officially disclosed, but The Athletic’s Thomas Drance was able to shed some light on the financials.
Podkolzin is the team’s most recent first round pick, and the fourth prospect from the 2019 draft class to ink a deal with the Canucks, only behind forwards Nils Höglander and Carson Focht, as well as goaltender Arturs Silovs.
Podkolzin is expected to be at training camp next season, with many fans hoping that he can crack the line-up and make an immediate impact with his new club, much like the previous rookies before him.
We’ll also need someone to instruct Stan Smyl on how to say his name properly.
What are your thoughts on Podkolzin’s new deal? Make sure to drop a comment below!