After a rookie season that saw him cement himself as a certified NHL regular, Vasily Podkolzin returned home to Russia for the offseason.
During his offseason, there’s still hockey to be played in Podkolzin’s world as he took part in a three-on-three tournament. Podkolzin did an interview with Pavel Lysenkov of MatvhTV.ru
and we pulled some of the more interesting quotes for you through Google translate.
Since he did this interview during a three-on-three tournament, he was asked which NHL team would likely win in the three-on-three format.
Podkolzin said that he believes the Colorade Avalanche would win because they are the best skating team. He also brought up the Vegas Golden Knights as one of the better skating clubs.
The interviewer asked about the Edmonton Oilers because of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
“Good question, maybe,” said Podoklzin. “But if you choose, I would not bet on Edmonton.”
He was asked if he had much communication with upper management about Andrey Kuzmenko before he left Vancouver just three days after being eliminated from the AHL playoffs.
“When we finished the playoffs in the AHL, I flew to Vancouver,” said Podkolzin. “I had three days to finish my business and pack my things. I went for dinner with my wife, the team owner, general manager and someone else was sitting at the next table. They ask me: ‘What can you tell us about Kuzmenko? Do you think he can help us?’. I replied that he would definitely help. After that Kuzmenko and I talked on the phone. That’s it — and he’s in Vancouver.”
There was a follow-up question to Podkolzin about why Kuzmenko chose Vancouver as his destination and Podoklzin spoke about the attitude that the Canucks are creating. He also mentioned that all the team’s leaders got in contact with Kuzmenko and that Vancouver is, “a very good city, which is important.”
He was also asked how Kuzmenko will settle in Vancouver and he said, “I believe that he will shoot. Kuzmenko’s [play] in Vancouver will explain what to do. He came to play in the NHL and will try. I’m sure everything will be fine.”
When asked about Kuzmenko playing in the top nine, Podkolzin said that it won’t be easy to jump into one of those top scoring lines immediately.
“It is difficult to say,” said Podkolzin when asked about Kuzmenko jumping right into the top-nine. “We’ll have to see what happens in training camp. And it remains to be seen how the composition will change when Vancouver fits under the salary cap. Kuzy plays on the left and there are usually right-handed players on the right. It is not known how it will be. I myself, am interested.”
We’ve heard Podkolzin speak highly of his head coach Bruce Boudreau and he continued to praise him when asked about his head coach.
“He has an individual approach to each [person],” said Podkolzin. “A very smart trainer. He understands your condition. At the same time, he is always ready to communicate. Maybe this is not always the case in Russia. Although it was in SKA, I could also go up to anyone and talk. But Boudreau literally demands it, he says ‘if you have any questions, no matter what, be sure to come to my office and talk. I understand that you are in your first season. That’s why I’m always ready to help’.”
Podkolzin also spoke about how Boudreau helped Alex Ovechkin in his younger years. He said that Boudreau spoke to Podkolzin about how hard Ovechkin worked in his younger days. Podkolzin also mentioned that Boudreau and Ovechkin always meet with each other before the games and that they have a very good relationship.
When asked about the Canucks missing the playoffs and having a tough schedule to finish the season due to postponed games, Podkolzin spoke about learning a lot about the NHL’s playoff format and how those postponed games made it even harder to make the playoffs.
“I think it had a big impact on our performance,” said Podkolzin. “We were only five points short of reaching the playoffs. But the season is over, and now I understand how valuable it is to get into the playoffs. How important it is for the team and for everyone. This is more valuable than all personal awards, more valuable than anything. [The playoffs] is the biggest thrill.”
The interviewer asked about the rookie night where he said that Nils Höglander sang a song and Podkolzin gave a speech that the guys responded by saying, “this is the cutest toast we’ve heard in a while!”
He was also happy that the night didn’t cost the rookies too much money. It wasn’t as bad as the famous Boston bar tab after the Bruins’ Stanley Cup win.
“Yes, I remember that bill on the internet, when the guys, after winning the Stanley Cup, went for 156 thousand dollars,” said Podkolzin. “But in Vancouver, it went light.”
With the war going on in Ukraine, Podkolzin was asked about how it was affecting him and he said that it was nice that many of his teammates were constantly checking in on his family and that upper management said to reach out to them for help with anything.
The final interesting note was when Podkolzin was asked about Cale Makar and how skilled he is.
“He’s just a beast,” said Podkolzin. “I played against Makar. The arms, legs and head are so cool there that it’s like a guy was raised in a test tube. It was as if he was bred exclusively for hockey. It’s nice to watch him play. In his first year, Makar took the Calder Trophy as the league’s best rookie. In the second, he was a finalist for the Norris Trophy. In the third, he took this prize for the best defenseman, as well as the Conn Smythe Trophy and the Stanley Cup. And this at the age of 23! Cale is very cool. Mikhail Maltsev plays in Colorado, I talked about him [about Makar]. He sees it in the system. Even in training, Makar always does his best, shows his class.”
Podkolzin will be back in Vancouver soon to begin preparing for training camp with the Canucks and should be a big piece of their top-nine forward group. We always love hearing from Podkolzin and after his first and only English media availability, we are looking forward to hearing from him at training camp as well.