The Vancouver Canucks have drafted Russian right winger Vasily Podkolzin 10th overall at the 2019 NHL Draft.
Podkolzin, who doesn’t turn 18 until Monday, is listed at 6-foot-1 and 196 pounds. The Moscow native is a left-shot power forward that plays his off-wing with speed and skill.
Here’s the scouting report, courtesy of Elite Prospects:
A skilled winger who plays with an edge. Podkolzin combines his fine hockey sense, puck handling and shooting with an aggressive, in-your-face, type of game. He competes hard, is very difficult to play against and has the tools to be a high scoring player.
In short, Podkolzin is a player that head coach Travis Green will be ecstatic to have on his roster – though he won’t be joining the team right away.
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Canucks fans will need to be patient, as Podkolzin is under contract to his KHL team in St Petersburg for two more years. Clearly that didn’t bother Canucks GM Jim Benning, who explained his rationale to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman following the pick.
"We're excited to get him. He's strong on the puck, he takes pucks to the net. He's a good two-way player." – #Canucks GM on Podkolzin, following the 10th overall #NHLDraft selection. pic.twitter.com/OWLfDEVS8J
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) June 22, 2019
“The way we looked at it, no matter who we picked at that spot probably needed two years of development anyway,” said Benning. “He’s strong on the puck, he takes pucks to the net. He’ll give us a dimension that we don’t have in our young players. Somebody that can protect the puck, he’s a good two-way player. We’re really excited to get him at 10.”
Podkolzin turned heads last summer at the 2018 Hlinka-Gretzky Tournament where he led the tournament in goals (8), and tied Alexis Lafreniere for most points (11). He captained Russia to a bronze medal at the Hlinka-Gretzky Tournament, and also wore the C for his country at the 2019 Under-18 World Championship. Podkolzin scored four points (1-3-4) in seven games at the U18s, helping Russia earn a silver medal.
Somewhat of a polarizing prospect, as we outlined this week, just a few months ago Podkolzin was widely considered the third-best draft-eligible player available.
His stock dropped on most lists in recent months, however, likely due to his lack of production in league play. Podkolzin spent time in three different Russian leagues and struggled to produce in all of them, albeit in relatively low sample sizes.
No stranger to Vancouver, Podkolzin skated on the ice at Rogers Arena last winter, scoring three points (0-3-3) in seven games for Russia at the World Juniors.