"No, I'm not nervous": Canucks rookie Podkolzin enjoying Vancouver so far

Sep 17 2021, 7:57 pm

Vasily Podkolzin was rather charming in his first media session of the season, ahead of the start of rookie camp with the Vancouver Canucks.

That’s not easy to do with a new team in a new country, while trying to learn a new language. The 20-year-old Russian appears to be ready for all three, however.

Podkolzin answered questions mostly with the help of Russian interpreter Alexandra Makarevsky, but he did show off his English language skills in a few moments.

Asked if he was nervous about his new surroundings, the Russian rookie answered in English, without hesitation.

“No, I’m not nervous.”

Given how poorly things went for the last high-profile Canucks draft pick from Russia, ensuring that Podkolzin is comfortable in Vancouver is important.

So far, so good for Podkolzin, who recently shared a photo of himself hanging out with other recent Canucks draft picks Nils Hoglander and Danila Klimovich.

“We’re really good friends,” Podkolzin said of fellow 2019 draft pick Hoglander. “We’re trying to speak English to each other, and we go to dinners, and we’re going to continue doing that.”

Podkolzin has been to Vancouver before of course, as he won a bronze medal at the 2019 World Juniors and stepped on stage at the 2019 NHL Draft — two events held at Rogers Arena.

The only thing he hasn’t seen yet, he said, is Stanley Park — which is probably for the best right now.

“I’m having no issues. I try to speak English as much as possible,” Podkolzin said through a translator. “I understand everyone around me, and I just need a little bit of time to learn English…”

Podkolzin clearly understood the interpreter, because he spoke up in English again to clarify that he needs time to become comfortable expressing himself in English for interviews.

“In interviews,” he said.

Yeah, it sounds like he’s adjusting just fine.

Podkolzin got married this summer, and is joined in Vancouver by his wife. He says they’re planning to hire a tutor to learn English together.

As a top 10 draft pick, lots is expected of Podkolzin — even as a rookie — with most people having him pencilled in on the third line.

A power forward, Podkolzin plays a responsible two-way game that should help him ease into the NHL. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound right winger should get every opportunity to succeed under Travis Green, which is something that he wasn’t always afforded in the KHL.

Podkolzin wasn’t given much ice time the past two seasons, which isn’t unusual for young players in the KHL. He finally broke through in the playoffs last season though, scoring 11 points (6-5-11) in 16 games.

“It was a very important playoffs for me. It boosted my confidence a lot,” he said.

“I feel like I’ve matured a lot, and I’m ready to be here and start my career in the NHL… I’ve been in a couple unpleasant situations in the KHL, but overall I’m very grateful for my experience over the two years.”

Abbotsford Canucks GM Ryan Johnson acknowledged that the last two years weren’t easy for Podkolzin, but said he thinks it’ll actually work out to be a positive for him.

“As we all know, he’s faced some adversity over the last few years in his journey in the KHL,” said Johnson. “I think that’s been a huge benefit to him, that it hasn’t been an easy process for him. He’s had to fight through some situations, and some adversity that I think has made him stronger. That has prepared him for now, a pro career over here, that as we know, is not always on the up-and-up.

“There’s adversity, there’s ups and downs, and I think he’s prepared for it.”

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