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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: Vasily Podkolzin’s speeding ticket, my favourite player to interview and shadowing Connor McDavid

It’s pretty wild to think that just one week ago, the Canucks were still in training camp.

It seems like so much has happened since then!

I’m covering for David Quadrelli this week, so let’s just get right into it! Here’s what the wonderful people of Canucks Twitter asked this week.

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There could be value to shadowing Connor McDavid, but his game is so explosive that keeping a man in front of him at all times would be difficult but does limit his ability to torch you during his 26 minutes of ice time.

A lot of what McDavid does so great lies in his ability to just walk a single defender so easily. I don’t have to bring fancy stats to back that claim up, we all know how McDavid has become arguably the best hockey player on the planet.

Each team just needs to be very aware of where he is on the ice at all times. I think some extra pressure on him when he’s in the offensive zone is necessary. It’s like throwing a 3-1 pitch in baseball. If you’re going up against the four-hole hitter with a base open, you’ll take your chances with the next batter. The Edmonton Oilers next batter isn’t near the level of McDavid so I would try to put pressure on other players to make plays instead of McDavid.

Unless Leon Draisaitl is on the ice too, then you might just be in trouble.

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The best players in this league are going to get theirs from time to time.

Yeah, not too many. I can’t think of any of them breaking 36 km/h this season for sure. For those who didn’t see BHB’s tweet earlier in the day or read about it on HFboards. Vasily Podkolzin was clocked at 36.4 km/h in his KHL game on Sunday. I have to assume that it was during this play when he flew through the neutral zone and drove the net before drawing a penalty.

Since we’re here, let’s look at that game.

Podkolzin was benched last weekend in SKA’s big rivalry game against CSKA. That caused a flurry of Russian media analyzing the relationship between SKA and Podkolzin. It’s obvious that it isn’t great.

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This weekend he was in the lineup for SKA. He began the game on the fourth line but worked his way onto the third line by the third period with SKA trailing once again to CSKA.

He was killing penalties for SKA in this game and had a massive hit on the boards late in the game.

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Podkolzin brought the vroom and the boom in this game. He didn’t get many great scoring chances but his added ice time late in back-to-back KHL games could mean that the coach is considering a move up the lineup.

I doubt it because Valeri Bragin is going to Bragin, but I still hold out hope for the 19-year-old Canucks prospect.

Three and a half months folks…

It’s been great for David Quadrelli and myself to be on the zoom calls throughout training camp and now into the regular season. Regular player access is something we have never really had in my two years at CanucksArmy. Frankly, it was touch and go for a lot of the history of CA.

We’ve been invited to every zoom call and are very happy to actually get called upon for questions.

My favourite interviewee thus far has been Quinn Hughes. A lot of people probably expect me to say Nate Schmidt, and that’s fair because he’s a funny, talkative dude who gives long answers every time.

There’s just something about the way Hughes answers questions that amazes me. He always knows which play you are talking about when you ask him about something that happened in the game. He often responds with the score of the game first as he’s remembering how the play broke down.

He’s got such an intelligent hockey mind and it shows in the way he answers questions. He’s never too short or too long in his answers and he just seems to give a great quote every time.

J.T. Miller will make a massive difference to the Canucks’ power play. Not only is his passing and shooting ability going to be an asset for the first unit, his addition to the top group will drop Nils Hoglander down the second group. With Hoglander on the second group, that bumps a player like Tyler Motte off of the unit completely.

Miller has developed chemistry with all the other four players on the first unit and can play multiple positions with the man advantage.

He’s a massive boost to this team’s first line and power play unit.

The Canucks need him in order to be successful.

It’s a question that will be asked more and more in this coming offseason.

If Podkolzin is everything I think he will be, he will move right into a middle six-winger spot on this Canucks team and will only look to go up from there.

Virtanen signed a two-year deal in the offseason and the Canucks could explore a trade if they are happy with how Podkolzin fits into their lineup.

If your 2021-22 top six looks something like this:

Miller Pettersson Boeser
Pearson/Hoglander Horvat Hoglander/Podkolzin

There is reason to believe that one of Kole Lind or Zack MacEwen could push to be on that third line with Antoine Roussel and Adam Gaudette. If that’s the case, there are likely some NHL teams that would pay draft picks for a player who could potentially round out their top-six group.

As much as some believe it isn’t possible, I think the Canucks can be the right spot for Virtanen to have a successful career. It’s very possible that in the 2021-22 season, he will still be a better third-line option than MacEwen and Lind. But that’s where his value will be the determinant on if he’s on the roster or not. If the organization is comfortable with their top nine right-wingers and a decent return is available for Virtanen with one year left in his deal, maybe he is moved in this coming offseason.

As always, thank you for the questions.

Quads will be back next week to answer all you fine folks’ questions.

Follow along with CanucksArmy for breaking news as the season is in full swing with news coming out every day.