After a recent post on the Vancouver Canucks Instagram page, fans of the team that aren’t so much into their hockey abroad have finally had a chance to see the team’s 2019 first round pick , Vasili Podkolzin in action.
With a lot of Canucks fans hoping for big things from Podkolzin in terms of point-scoring, one must remember that Canucks fans have been spoiled immensely with the rookie seasons from the likes of Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, and Nils Höglander so the expectations alone might let you down.
In terms of weight, maturity, strength, and height he is considered to be “ready for the league” by many standing at 6’4 and 203 pounds (height and weight per EliteProspects.)
However, in an interview on Donnie and Dhali: The Team, an ex-teammate of Podkolzin at SKA St. Petersburg and an ex-Canuck, Linden Vey mentioned that the young prospect “is not your typical Russian guy”
“He already plays that North American style game, extremely strong [and he] goes to the net.”, said Vey.
One cannot help and straight away think that he will not be as flashy or productive as Kirill Kaprizov was for the Minnesota Wild last season just to use a comparison of a typical Russian player.
Now, of course, those are high expectations to put on the kid after we have witnessed what a 24-year-old, Kaprizov can do in the league, but those are the “typical Russian guys” we know and love.
With that being said it is important for the fan base to understand that there is a possibility he struggles to produce offensively early in his NHL career but an immediate plus in his game is the two-way side of it, which is something that other Russian players have not strived at necessarily.
With Podkolzin already playing a mature game at both ends of the ice, one can argue that his style of play is a better match with the team than the style of a “flashy Russian” player.
With the potential of him breaking out offensively at some points during his third or fourth year, he has all the ability and grit on the defensive side of the puck to solidify his place in the top nine from the first game of the season.
“He is going to be a player who probably has more of a two-way impact as an assertive and physical winger,” said The Athletic’s Thomas Drance, on Donnie and Dhali: The Team
“A lot of guys come in [the NHL] and are skilled enough to contribute offensively right away,” said Drance. “It’s very rare that you have an assertive, defensive forward come in and make a defensive impact at the age of 20.”
Added with the confidence he has in big games, as proved by his stats in the KHL playoffs last season where he put up six goals and five assists in just 16 Gagarin Cup games, he will surely be a player appreciated and praised a lot by the coaches throughout his debut season.
Do you see it differently? let us know in the comments below!