Monday Mailbag: 5 projections for Podkolzin’s sophomore season, expectations on Kuzmenko, and European free agents of note

Photo credit:Matthew Henderson
By Faber
1 year ago
After a week that saw the Stanley Cup Playoffs crank up and the Abbotsford Canucks’ playoffs shut down, we are back at it with another Monday mailbag here at CanucksArmy!
With all of the Canucks hockey being wrapped up for the summer, it’s time to look into the offseason and begin to examine what the Canucks’ lineup will look like next season. There will be trades, drafted players and some signings to bolster the lineup and we are excited to get into the silly season.
The mailbag is once again packed full of great questions from the wonderful people of #CanucksTwitter.
So, without wasting any more words, let’s get right into it!
For sample purposes, I’ve taken a 2nd overall pick, two 8th overall picks, a 9th overall pick, and a 24th overall pick to use as comparables to Vasily Podkolzin.
Podkolzin’s rookie season was similar in points and ice time to the average of Kaapo Kakko, Casey Mittelstadt, Travis Konecny, Bo Horvat, and Alex Nylander.
Kaapo Kakko, 2019-20: 14:17, 10 goals, 13 assists.
Bo Horvat, 2014-15: 12:16, 13 goals, 12 assists.
Casey Mittelstadt, 2018-19: 13:27, 12 goals, 13 assists.
Travis Konecny, 2016-17: 14:05, 11 goals, 17 assists.
Alex Nylander, 2019-20: 12:08, 10 goals, 16 assists.
Let’s look at some reasons why the average of these five players’ sophomore season could be a solid projection for Vasily Podkolzin.
Podkolzin’s rookie season had more goals than the five comparables but saw him be right around the same for points. In his first NHL year, Podkolzin played an average of 12:47 a game and had 14 goals and 12 assists on the season.
It is important to note that Podkolzin scored 12 of his 14 goals at even strength. Those 12 goals at five-on-five are the same as Bo Horvat in his rookie season back in 2014-15.
Podkolzin’s rookie season saw him play over 50 minutes of power play time. That’s more minutes than Horvat (18), but less than Kakko (144), Mittelstadt (135), Konecny (118), and Nylander (76). This means that you can probably expect Podkolzin’s scoring to grow at the higher end of the evaluation from these players’ sophomore seasons. They were all able to begin their careers with a decent amount of power play time while Podkolzin had to do a lot of his rookie scoring at five-on-five.
From there, we look at the average scoring from the five comparables in their sophomore seasons.
Simply based on the comparable players’ sophomore seasons, the numbers project Podkolzin to have a sophomore season with 14 goals and 17 assists.
We view Podkolzin as more than just a scorer but can see him being a 20-goal scorer in his sophomore season in a similar way to Konecny. The goal for Podkolzin should be to carve out a spot in the top six and to be there, he needs to show the potential to score 20 goals. In a very limited role during his rookie season, we saw flashes of offensive brilliance in Podkolzin’s game.
The numbers say 31 points but I’m going to say 18 goals and 15 assists for 33 points next season.
Canucks management hasn’t said that they want to move on from Tyler Myers, Tucker Poolman, or Oliver Ekman-Larsson, but they have said that they want to create cap space, and moving on from one of these three defencemen would accomplish that goal.
The team will likely do whatever they can to move on from one of these defencemen and use the cash on a right-shot defenceman who profiles as a better partner for Quinn Hughes. That needs to be the goal of the offseason and in my eyes, they should be targeting two young defencemen who could be Hughes’ partner. Creating an internal competition between two young right-shot defencemen would be great for the organization.
Imagine being in a competition where the prize is that you get to be Quinn Hughes’ defence partner.
That’s what the Canucks should try to accomplish and it begins with clearing up cap space to create flexibility for acquiring assets. There is likely a market for Myers after the strong season that he had in Vancouver. He is also a right-shot defenceman who is big — GMs love that vibe. OEL’s deal is going to be very difficult to deal and even Poolman’s $2,500,000 may not seem like a monster cap-hit but he is on the books for three more seasons.
If they were able to find a trading partner for Travis Hamonic, they may be able to find a partner for Poolman but OEL’s deal is too long and the no-move clause in his contract for the remaining five years makes it very hard to get a trade done.
Yeah, I like Marco Kasper here.
I also like the idea of exploring the trade market and trading down if you don’t have the perfect player fall to you at 15.
If one of Joakim Kemell or Brad Lambert falls to 15, that could be a very interesting pickup for the Canucks and it would be a very skilled forward coming to the organization with pro experience.
As for defencemen, the two players who keep coming up around 15 are Pavel Mintyukov and Denton Mateychuk. Both are left-shot defencemen around 6′ tall. Both are great puck-movers and would be a major boost to the Canucks’ defence prospect pool.
Kasper is one that we like a lot and Matthew Savoie has some amazing speed, matches it with his effort on every shift, and knows how to finish in the WHL.
The Canucks are going to get a good prospect in their system with that first-round pick. The player more than likely immediately becomes their top prospect in the system.
It’s always tough to project how a top European player will transition to the NHL but there’s a lot to like about the way that Andrei Kuzmenko plays. He is strong on the forecheck, highly skilled with the puck on his stick, and has a touch for finishing.
I spent a bit too much time combing through KHL games to grab you every single one of Kuzmenko’s 27 goals but here they are so you get a taste of the type of player he is.
As you can see, he creates a lot of turnovers that led to goals, he can finish from a variety of different spots on the ice and he has good speed.
The problem with evaluating him is that he scored all 27 of those goals on KHL goalies in KHL games with KHL defending against him. Kuzmenko will likely be a middle-six player next season. I don’t have him as a lock for a top-six but we can easily see him getting time on the Canucks’ second power play unit if they were to sign the Russian free agent.
As for salary, I can’t see it being too big, and Rick Dhaliwal of Donnie and Dhali has reported that the deal needs to be a one-year deal.
I can see Kuzmenko putting up 23-40 points if he’s put in the right environment for offence.
Rickard Hugg is a linemate of Canucks prospect Linus Karlsson, I’d keep an eye there.
Another SHL player to watch is someone I saw a lot of while scouting Marco Kasper. Lucas Ekeståhl Jonsson is a strong skating left-shot defenceman who isn’t big but didn’t get pushed around at all in the SHL.
I also like the Canucks taking a swing at Jiri Smejkal. He is a hulking, 6’4″ winger out of the Finnish league but apparently signed an SHL contract for the 2022-23 season on April 11th.
Well, that wraps up another Monday mailbag here at CanucksArmy.
Thanks for all the great questions, let’s have an awesome week and we will see you next Monday!

Check out these posts...