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Canucks’ Rick Tocchet on what he wants to see from Vasily Podkolzin and Nils Höglander next season

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Photo credit:Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
11 months ago
Rick Tocchet didn’t hesitate when he was asked what he wants to see from Vasily Podkolzin and Nils Höglander next season. Enthusiasm.
In an interview with noted National radio program Halford and Brough on the Sportsnet radio network, the Vancouver Canucks’ head coach was asked what he’ll need to see from young players like Höglander and Podkolzin in order for them to make the team out of camp.
“Enthusiasm,” said Tocchet. “Chasing pucks down, winning puck battles. I think young guys add that to the team. When you can get a bunch of young guys to play for you that they just bring that enthusiasm. Even in practice in the doldrums of the season sometimes in practices, guys are a little bit tired or whatever, if you got a young guy out there buzzing around, the guys you mentioned Podkolzin and Höglander, can they be that guy, those energy bunnies. Can they be the first on the forecheck, can they get the crowd going at Rogers? Those are the things you want these young guys to do, just add a little bit of spice and life to your team. Obviously, they have skill sets, but one thing for me is whether can they be really good forecheckers for us. That would be huge for me, if I could get those young guys, we’d be a good forechecking group.”
On Sunday, the Canucks re-signed Höglander to a two-year contract with an annual cap hit of $1.1 million. He’ll need to pass through waivers in order to be sent down, so the Canucks will certainly be hoping Höglander can earn a roster spot in training camp this season.
Tocchet added that he recently told Podkolzin, who just turned 22 last month, to take some days off after seeing him at Canucks development camp out at UBC last week. The Russian winger wasn’t a participant, but he was in and around the rink. Tocchet also offered up some overall thoughts on Podkolzin’s game.
“Podzy’s just gotta let it hang, he’s just got to play almost a little reckless,” said Tocchet. “I think when he gets in trouble he receives the puck and then he makes his decision instead of like — he knows he’s going to get the puck, then he can make his play in his mind as he’s receiving the puck. It seems like he’s getting it and then he just wants to make that steady play, whether that’s a chip up the boards when sometimes nobody’s on you. That’s the time to make a play or move your feet.
“I think that’s experience, I think he learned a lot last year. I mean, I saw him walking around at development camp and he looks shredded. He looks lean. It’s almost like I told him, he’s the type of guy you tell him ‘make sure you’re in shape’, and then he works out every single day. I told him to back off and take a little vacation, I think he’s going to have a child here soon so just enjoy your baby and stuff too, don’t get too crazy. That’s the one thing I love about him is he does work hard.”
Podkolzin and his wife Sasha welcomed their first child on Tuesday morning.
Both Podkolzin and Höglander would likely categorize their 2022-23 campaigns as disappointing, and with expectations clearly laid out for them by the Canucks’ bench boss, it will be interesting to see if the two young wingers can work their way up the Canucks’ already-loaded winger depth chart.

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