It’s going to take time for him to fully adapt to the NHL game but he is slowly adapting.
The Russian winger has three goals in ten games. It’s not much but expected at this point in the season. However, the stats could start rising soon.
The one thing that is underrated about his game is that he can shoot the puck. It seems he has improved his shot the last two years with SKA St. Petersburg.
(The no-look pass from Conor Garland was just as impressive.)
“He’s probably got one of the hardest shots on the team,” said Bo Horvat on Podkolzin’s shot per Harman Dayal of The Athletic.
Podkolzin even got time on the second power play unit in the 6-3 win over the Dallas Stars. He was put in the bumper spot.
During Monday’s practice, Podkolzin was still with the second power play unit and he was putting in the work.
Despite limited ice time and being a healthy scratch twice, it has been a good rookie season so far for Podkolzin.
At the time of this writing, Podkolzin leads all Canucks in High Danger Corsi for at 55% at five-on-five according to NaturalStatTrick.
He is also fourth in shot percentage for at five-on-five with 52.38% and second in expected goals percentage at 51.35%. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is first at 52.39% so that makes him first among all forwards.
Podkolzin’s shot isn’t the only good thing he has displayed. He has won battles along the boards and has made smart zone exits and passes.
Podkolzin needs more ice time.
Podkolzin should be playing more than ten minutes a night. He had 14:29 total ice time in the game against the Stars which was an improvement over 10:54 TOI against the Nashville Predators and 7:04 TOI he had against the New York Rangers.
Podkolzin being on the Canucks second power play unit is a good start for him. As his game improves, he should be given bigger responsibilities. With that shot of his, the bumper spot is a perfect place for him to play.
He has been given bottom-six minutes so far this season which is the Travis Green special when it comes to rookies. ( Höglander was an exception as he started last season in the top six and never got demoted.)
Having him with Garland and Jason Dickinson could be the thing that could get his offensive game going especially having an offensive stalwart like Garland. Think of Podkolzin like a bear that has been sleeping. Once it has been poked, watch out.
“Garland’s a good player,” said Green after the win over Dallas. “He’s a nice option on different lines. Podkolzin is slowly getting better every game.”
If Podkolzin continues to improve, he could start seeing top-six minutes. It was a quiet start but so far, Podkolzin has put up a respectable rookie season, and let’s see where it goes from here for the Moscow Mule.