Faber’s Prospect Round-Up: Kole Lind’s faceoff quirk, Zlodeyev out for the season, Podkolzin, Gadjovich and more
Photo credit:Instagram via @zlodeev36
By Faber1 year ago
There have been a ton of positives in the past six weeks for the prospect group of the Vancouver Canucks.
Over the past two weeks, I have been checking in with team sources, coaches and Canucks prospects. There has been some interesting information that has come out of those conversations so I thought I would throw it all into one article.
Coming into his third full season with the Comets, 22-year-old Kole Lind is playing top-line minutes in the AHL and is being used as a primary creator of offence on the power play. Along with the move to the top of the Comets’ lineup, he has also made a move to a new position. He is now playing centre on the Comets’ first line alongside Sven Baertschi and a combination of Lukas Jasek or Sam Anas.
Lind currently has eight points through eight games. He has four power play goals this season and is possessing a ton of confidence with the way that his line is operating at even strength this season.
The transition to centre is one of the most interesting situations in the Canucks’ prospect system. He was struggling with faceoffs early in the season but then switched to taking faceoffs left-handed. The idea originated from his younger brother Kalan Lind. “It started after our second game of the year,” said Kole. “I won two faceoffs like that and right after the game I went straight to my little brother, who has played centre basically his whole life and he gave me some pointers.” His brother Kalan is a good guy to ask as he will be a top prospect in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft.
Lind is finding that the opposite curve is giving him more pull in the faceoff dot. “I found that I would win a lot of draws for the opposition because the puck would roll off the end of my stick or the other guy would get his skate in the way,” said Lind. “So, I found by flipping the stick and curve over, I can get the puck cupped around my blade better, and be quicker than them so they can’t get their skate in the way.”
It’s strange to see in the AHL, but it’s working for Lind.
Another thing that I am liking in his transition to centre is his ability to be the first pass out of the defensive zone for his defencemen. As the centre, he needs to be the lowest forward and does a good job of creating a lane for easy passes to begin the exit of their zone.
As the lowest forward, he is also more available to dive into the corners and retrieve the puck to carry it out on his own. Here’s an example of that:
Lind still needs to do a better job of keeping himself out of dangerous situations as he is caught with his head down at times. Here’s another example of him being the lowest forward and getting the puck transitioned into the neutral zone. He takes a big hit here:
It has been a great start to the season for Lind and he has a lot more hockey to play in Utica this season.
His transition to centre will be a long-term project and keeping him down in the AHL for the full season will help facilitate that.
Remember him? I was gushing over the tape once I got my eyes on how this young centre has an incredibly high effort level and pays so much attention to the defensive side of things.
Then, he started scoring goals in the VHL (Russia’s AHL) and it looked like he should be climbing in the Canucks’ prospect rankings. He was on track to fight for a spot on Russia’s most recent World Junior team as an 18-year-old. He got injured right before camp and was unable to participate after getting a taste of what that team could do at the Karjala Cup.
Since the turn of the calendar year, his year has had a couple of tough breaks. He was sick for a long period of time in January but did return to VHL action on February 3rd.
He scored a goal in that game and it looked like we were going to see some more progress in the young centre’s game.
Unfortunately, we have not seen him in a game since.
The reason for the absence is due to a broken bone near his eye.
He suffered that injury in a training session right after that game on February 3rd. His season is now over and this is how his stat line will finish for the 2020-21 season:
It’s too bad for him as he was beginning to be must-watch hockey for us who follow the Canucks’ prospects. He is definitely down about it as he was supposed to make his KHL debut this year and could have potentially done it during a playoff game. The situation is devastating for Zlodeyev who eats, breathes and sleeps hockey. “I want to play hockey all the time,” said Zlodeyev. “The problem is that (with the broken bone in the face) I can’t put any load on it. I’m now forbidden to go to the gym.”
Though this is a step back in development, it does come pretty late in a season where he showed some real potential.
Next year, he will be all but a lock to be on Russia’s World Junior team and will very likely get games in the KHL if he doesn’t start there.
We wish him luck in the recovery.
This kid just pops off the screen when you watch him play. He plays like the most optimistic Canucks were thinking that Jayce Hawryluk was going to do. Lockwood flies around the ice, throws hits on anything that moves, does a great job of extending offensive zone time with some good playmaking skills, and loves shooting the puck.
He is fresh off of his best game of the season in the AHL. In that game, he has seven shots on goal and contributed with an assist on a Jonah Gadjovich goal.
He is still a long way away from getting to the NHL, but the early returns on Lockwood are promising for a fourth line, Tyler Motte type player that can contribute on the penalty kill.
When you look at the goal leaders in the AHL, Jonah Gadjovich’s name isn’t hard to find.
The 2017 second-round pick has seven goals through eight games this season.
He is going to the net hard and has good enough hands to find loose pucks and bury them. The questions about Gadjovich’s NHL potential are always centred around his skating. I do think that he has been able to improve in that category but he still has work to do before you can say that he is NHL-ready.
One of the things that I have learned from my conversations with Gadjovich is that he knows how to play a role. He was a fourth-line body banger when he made Canada’s World Junior team back at the 2018 World Junior Championships. He is aware of that being the type of player that he needs to be to make an NHL roster.
His physicality is one of the strong suits of his game and when we spoke, he said that the extended break was great for him to get his body into prime condition for this season. He was in the gym five or six days a week and has never felt better coming into a hockey season.
It’s obviously been a great start to the season for him and consistently scoring will do nothing but boost where he ranks in the Canucks’ prospect system.
I just wrote a more in-depth story about Aidan McDonough’s season and it is available here.
He has a seed-defining game against Boston College on Friday and then will participate in a one-and-done playoff format to crown the champion of the Hockey East division.
He has seven goals and four assists in his past six games and was just named Hockey East Player of the Month for February.
We saved the best for last.
Vasily Podkolzin is currently two games into his KHL playoffs.
We don’t need to talk much about his game, you have (hopefully) read enough of my articles on that.
For the record, he has two goals through his first two playoff games. One is an empty-net goal, but even that is a good vote of confidence from his coach to have him out in the final two minutes of the game protecting a one-goal lead.
Let’s talk about what everyone wants to know, Podkolzin’s arrival date.
If given the chance, this will be my first question to Jim Benning in Friday’s media availability.
Podkolzin’s contract runs until April 30th but Jim Benning may be able to get Podkolzin out of Russia after Podkolzin’s team SKA is eliminated from the playoffs. SKA is up 2-0 in their opening-round series. This should be a cakewalk for SKA but the second round will give them a much more difficult challenge.
SKA could be eliminated any time between March 18th and April 30th.
It’s simply a waiting game for that to happen and we are seeing more and more Canucks fans rooting for SKA to lose out of the playoffs. Once they do, it will be another waiting game to see if Benning can get a move done to have Podkolzin on his way to Vancouver.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a set date. It’s just a waiting game right now but we are getting closer with each breath.
Podkolzin will make an instant impact on the Canucks’ top-nine forward group.
I think coming into the 2021-22 season with a fresh start is the best option. It gives Podkolzin a training camp to earn a job in the same way Nils Höglander did. It will also give Podkolzin more time to learn the English language and have a clean break from the SKA organization.
Thanks for checking in on the most recent prospects update. I’ll continue to follow and talk with these prospects and bring you all the latest news and updates here at CanucksArmy.
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