2019 Draft Countdown No. 3: Vasili Podkolzin

Welcome to Canucks Army’s 2019 Draft Countdown. Over the next four weeks leading up to the draft, we’ll be rounding up scouting reports, quotes, and videos about our Top-100 prospects available. Here is an aggregated profile on Vasili Podkolzin.

Vasili Podkolzin

Date of Birth: June 24, 2001

Nation: Russia

Position: Right Wing

Shoots: Left

Height: 6’1″ / 185 cm

Weight: 196 lbs / 89 kg

Profile: One of the more polarizing prospects in this draft class, Podkolzin has been ranked anywhere from top-3 to late-first round. Hasn’t put up the points this year to really excite anyone looking at the stat sheet, but the winger has the tools to deserve a top-15 pick. Uses his physicality well to protect the puck and is constantly backchecking with the same intensity as going forward.

An absolute pit bull. Podkolzin offers high-end offensive awareness, lightning quick hands and a confrontational style. Despite some muted point totals coming from his club team, he’s made a habit of showing up in a big way on the international stage. — Cam Robinson

His acceleration is above average, he’s smart and tenacious with and without the puck, and he’s got an excellent wrist shot. Don’t let the bias against Russian players fool you – if Podkolzin’s drafted by a team that’s dedicated to his development, he projects to be a solid NHLer. — Hannah Stuart

One of the most controversial prospects for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft is Vasili Podkolzin. He doesn’t have earth-shattering numbers but it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t like his tools. I’m someone who likes to combine scouting with statistical analysis. I love it when both of those things are in agreement – it makes my life so much easier. But when those two things don’t match up, that’s when I need to put in the work to figure out what’s the truth behind it all. And that’s what I’m trying to do here with this Russian winger who I refuse to call “enigmatic” because that term is used way too often to describe Russian players.

What my eyes are telling me about Podkolzin is that he’s a power winger who works and competes extremely hard. He never quits on a play even when others do. If you don’t want to give your 100% playing against him, he’s going to win. He’s a well-rounded player who doesn’t cheat for offense but has lots of offensive abilities. He has good leadership qualities, and he leads by example on the ice. He’s capable of energizing the entire team with his play. — Jokke Nevalainen

During the year, Podkolzin showed himself to be the same complete offensive player he was at the Hlinka. He loves having the puck on his stick. When he gets it, he fiercely competes to hold it, and his good puck protection habits make it very hard to take it away from him. He consistently presents his back to the defence, twisting and turning to shield possession. If defenders get too close, he switches to one hand on his stick, using his free arm to further deny any pokecheck attempt. And if opponents engage physically, they can suffer some mean reverse hits; the winger isn’t afraid to use his strength to his advantage to create space for himself.

In close quarters, he is also able to play the puck with his feet and has a knack for getting free from checking pressure to push the puck in reach of his stick, squeak out of a scrum, and escape with possession. — David St. Louis

A rugged three-zone winger with an incredible compete level that compliments his superior puck skills, Podkolzin has been a top-six fixture for Team Russia at several high-profile international events. This is his first year playing in the MHL — Russia’s premier junior circuit — and he is an early-season favorite to be named one of the league’s top rookies. Podkolzin checks all the intangible blocks, as he can be counted on to address a variety of his coach’s concerns. What separates him from all the other “toolsy” forwards is that he can either create or finish plays while traveling at maximum speed, and his strong balance and stickhandling seems to convince defenders to back off more than they should. Podkolzin is effective both in open ice and during trench warfare, and he’s capable of completing on-the-tape passes that lead directly to quality chances near the net.

Podkolzin can be used to anchor the lead penalty-killing unit or run the power play from the half wall. He is confident with the puck and shows a tremendous amount of poise while controlling it. He’s quite coordinated and has soft hands to handle tough passes, plus Podkolzin hits the net with the majority of his one-time attempts. Without the puck, he’s a crash-and-bang forechecker with powerful leg drive that he uses to jolt bigger defenders off the puck. Podkolzin takes direct routes to the puck, and he anticipates eventual avenues of approach to be used by opposing puck carriers. His foot speed, edge work and agility are excellent, and he should be considered a breakaway threat in open ice. Podkolzin possesses a clear understanding of the game, and his nonstop motor and desire to be the best makes him an asset regardless of whether he’s scoring or not. Keep an eye on his temper and attempts to make big hits. — Steve Kournianos


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