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In terms of talent, there is little to question about Vasili Podkolzin. The powerful winger impressed on the international and domestic scenes. He was the breakout star of the Hlinka/Gretzky Cup, putting up eight goals and 11 points in just five games and helping the Russians to a bronze medal. At the World Junior A Hockey Challenge, he scored three goals and eight points in six games. He also played at the World Juniors, again coming home with a bronze medal after scoring three points in limited minutes in the Under-20 tournament. Back in Russia, he has impressed in the SKA St. Petersburg system, playing games at the KHL, VHL, and MHL levels this season.
The questions that NHL teams will have on Podkolzin will revolve around when he is willing to come to North America. According to Elite Prospects he is signed with SKA through the end of the 2020-21 season. There have also been rumours that he could stay in Russia even longer. With SKA being one of the richest teams in the KHL, they can pay him more than he could earn on an NHL ELC. He is clearly the third best talent in this draft but those concerns could cause a draft day fall.
Vasili Podkolzin Scouting Report
Right Wing — shoots Left
Born June 24th, 2001 — Moskva, Russia
Height 6’1″ — Weight 190 lbs [185 cm/86 kg]
Podkolzin is a good skater, featuring a powerful stride that generates good speed and also allows him to fight through checks and control the puck down low. He has a good first step and above average acceleration. Once he gets a step on a defender he can drop his shoulder and take the puck to the net. Podkolzin has excellent balance and wins battles on the boards and in front of the net. Overall his speed is good but not great, however, the power and balance set him apart. Profiling as a power winger, he works well below the hash marks in the cycle game. Podkolzin can take the puck to the front of the net and has the ability to finish when he gets there.
Podkolzin has good stickhandling skills which make him tough to defend in one-on-one situations. He can beat defenders out of the corner, or off the rush. Podkolzin also has very good passing skills with the vision to find open teammates and the skill to open up passing lanes and get the puck through. He creates turnovers and offence through a strong forecheck and by quickly putting pressure on defenders. Podkolzin is powerful and wins his battles on the boards and creates problems in front of the opponent’s net.
All that said, the true standout area of Podkolzin’s game is his ability to be a sniper. A natural goal scorer, Podkolzin has a strong wrist shot with a lightning quick release. This release can fool goaltenders and he beats them off the rush. He has shown the smarts to use a defender as a screen when taking this shot. His soft hands also allow him to finish in close to the net. Most impressive though is his one-timer, which is a rocket. Podkolzin finds the soft spot in the defence and gets himself open for the pass.
Podkolzin brings high-compete level and an effective defensive game. He is willing to show the same battle in his own end that he brings in the offensive end. Podkolzin fights for loose pucks and supports the defence down low. He uses his stick well to break up plays. Podkolzin has shown his instincts and defensive play on the penalty kill and is trusted by his junior level coaches in key situations.
Projection and Comparison
Podkolzin is close to being NHL ready but as mentioned above, whatever team drafts him will need to have patience due to his KHL situation. He could be a first line winger in the NHL, using both skill and power to put up points. While this is by no means a talent comparison, his game and style is reminiscent of Rick Nash.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Vasili Podkolzin that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
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