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Photo Credit: hcSKA/Twitter

Faber’s Vancouver Canucks prospects report: McDonough, Podkolzin, and Lind all have huge weeks

It was a huge week for Vancouver Canucks prospects. We saw goals, assists and even a hat trick.

Let’s take a look into the NCAA and overseas to see what some of the Canucks’ top prospects were up to this week.

Aidan McDonough, 21, LW, Northeastern University, NCAA

The next big shooter in the Canucks’ pipeline is Aidan McDonough. The big man comes in at 6’3″ while tipping the scale at over 200 pounds. He uses all of his size to generate power behind his dynamic shot.

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There’s no hiding that McDonough is lethal on the power play unit. He comes into a sophomore season where he is asked to take the reigns from former Canucks prospect and Northeastern forward Tyler Madden, and he looked like that game-changer this past weekend.

McDonough was named NCAA’s Big East player of the week as he scored five goals and added one assist over two games this weekend.

Most of the goals came from the right side on one-timer shots from McDonough. That’s his hotspot as he is doing a lot of similar things that Adam Gaudette was doing for Northeastern, but McDonough is doing it from the other side of the ice.

He ended up scoring a hat trick on Friday night against UNH and followed that up with two goals and an assist on Saturday in back-to-back wins.

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McDonough is being asked to do a lot more this year in his second NCAA season. He is growing into a leader in the locker room who leads by example on the ice. He now has eight goals and six assists for 14 points in 15 games through this COVID-19 NCAA season.

Vasily Podkolzin, 19, RW/LW, SKA (KHL), Russia National Team

After a slow start to the Beijer tournament in Sweden, Vasily Podkolzin cranked things up in the final game that saw him capture his second Eurotour tournament championship this year. After winning the Karjala Cup back at the end of 2020, Podkolzin and his Russian National Team won the Beijer tournament this weekend and Podkolzin had his fingerprints all over the win in the final game on Sunday.

Puck drop was 3 AM Pacific time and Podkolzin was up for it. He notched a goal and two assists in the final game as Russia defeated the Czech Republic on the shoulders of a three-point morning night from Podkolzin.

One of the most intriguing takeaways from the tournament was that the 19-year-old Podkolzin was selected to be an assistant captain for the Russian National Team. This wasn’t a U20 tournament, these teams were able to select the best of the best from their countrymen (aside from NHL players). The Russians went with a young group once again, this time a bit older than their Karjala Cup roster that featured all U20 players. This roster had more players that will likely be in the running to make Russia’s team for the World Championships.

The team was coached by Igor Larionov, who is clearly a big fan of the way that Podkolzin plays the game. Larionov, who turned 60 in December, is one of the next up and coming coaches in Russia. He is not currently part of a coaching staff in the KHL, but he is doing a lot for the young players in Russia and now contributing to the National Team’s coaching staff.

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He’s obviously a very intelligent hockey mind and is showing that while coaching this team to tournament wins. If Larionov is interested in coming to North America and joining an NHL franchise, he would be a huge asset. His hockey IQ is incredibly high and he would help make the transition to the NHL much easier for some Russian players.

cough cough Nikita Tryamkin cough cough Vasily Podkolzin cough cough

Podkolzin moved up to the second line in the final game after being on the fourth line for the first two matches of the tournament. He scored the goal as you saw earlier, he also had a secondary assist and this primary assist:

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Podkolzin looks ready for the NHL.

The question that everyone is asking is when will he be able to come to North America?

The answer is still not set in stone, but here is what I know.

There are only six games left in Podkolzin’s KHL season. We will then be on playoff watch as SKA could be knocked out early but they are playing good hockey as of late. SKA has won six of their last seven games. Podkolzin has five points in those seven games. Before their good stretch of seven games, SKA had lost five of their previous six games. The team has looked much better ever since Podkolzin has been given more ice time and opportunities on the power play and penalty kill.

I’m sure that’s just a coincidence though…

When SKA’s playoff run is over, we will know more about when Podkolzin can come to North America. The problem is that we won’t know enough until the World Championships is either announced or cancelled. The Canucks can ask for his release once SKA’s playoff run comes to an end. That will be sometime in March. The World Championships are scheduled to happen from late-May to early-June. If they proceed as planned, this will push Podkolzin’s Canucks’ debut back to the 2021-22 season.

It’s not the worst thing as he won’t burn a year off his entry-level contract and can have a fresh start with the team.

We will follow the situation closely and have breaking news on the North American arrival date but the two big things are SKA’s playoff run and the World Championships.

Kole Lind, 22, C, Utica Comets (AHL)

Just like the evolution of his four AHL pictures, Kold Lind is maturing as a player in the minor leagues.

He has been tasked with making the shift to becoming a full-time centre after only playing the position on the power play last season. So far, so good as he has been saddled up with two of the top players in the AHL. Sam Anas is playing the right wing for Lind while Sven Baertschi skates on his left side.

The trio has looked dangerous through three AHL games this season, with Lind looking like the best scorer of the bunch. He is getting his goals in the dirty areas around the net and thriving in the bumper position on the Comets’ first power play unit.

He definitely has some work to do in the faceoff dot, but his transition to centre has gone pretty good so far this season.

One of the jobs that a centre needs to do more compared to a winger is assist in the breakouts from the defensive zone. Lind has done a great job of that so far this season. He has been taking the first pass from the defencemen and breaks the puck out to Baertschi or Anas to help transition possession into the offensive zone.

Little plays like this are really nice to see from Lind.

He still gets himself into some dangerous situations, but here he makes a great play to get the puck out of the zone while under pressure.

There’s a lot to like about this kid so far this season and his grit will be needed for this Canucks team in the near future. We will see what happens with the expansion draft as Lind should be ready for a full-time NHL job by the time the 2021-22 season begins.

Just don’t tell the Kraken that.

Other Quick Hits

Carson Focht scored his first professional goal on Friday for the Utica Comets.

Focht has looked good in the AHL. Through three games, Focht leads the team in shots on goal with 11 and is not shy to mix things up between or outside the whistles.

Lots to like about him right now and there will be more to come from Cory Hergott and I soon.

We’re also keeping an eye on 2020 draft pick Jackson Kunz, who is now in the USHL. He has four goals in his past three USHL games. We will get more video on him soon.

Thanks for checking out another prospects wrap-up.

We will be back soon with more info on the young folk!