– Vasili Podkolzin –
SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL) | Right Wing | 2019 NHL Draft Eligible
Russia | June 24, 2001 | 5-foot-11, 165-pounds
Vasili Podkolzin doesn’t let the numbers describing his size do the talking, instead he lets his goal totals express who he is. He possesses an elite level shot and can blow by defenders with ease. Quite simply, Podkolzin is an electric winger who can do anything his coaches ask of him.
A relative unknown to many North America scouts, Podkolzin used his platform at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup to give himself an introduction. Potting eight goals and 11 points in just five games, he rocketed up the draft rankings and placed himself in a class of his own as far as goal-scorers for the 2019 NHL Draft. If Podkolzin can follow that performance up with a strong season in the MHL, we could hear his name go in the top-10.
- Work Ethic
Podkolzin has been a dynamic goal-scorer at every level of his career thus far, boasting several methods to find the back of the net regularly. First and foremost, his shot is lightning-quick and very accurate, allowing him to beat goaltenders with clean shots. Further, he has smooth hands and can embarrass goalies with highlight-reel breakaway moves.
His skating ability allows him to produce plenty of odd-man rushes and breakaways, as he has separation speed. He has a quick first three steps and can reach top speeds while handling the puck. What scouts will also love is that he plays every shift like it’s his last, hounding the puck and battling for possession against bigger opponents.
- Hockey Sense
While Podkolzin has certainly demonstrated the skill-set to be an early pick at this year’s NHL Draft, an improvement in his one-ice hockey sense would go a long way to pushing him into the top-10. There’s no denying the offensive abilities, but Podkolzin often looks out of place away from the puck, in both his positioning and his awareness.
He needs to become a better playmaker, which will come with better vision of the ice, and gain some muscle in order to stand up to the tough cycle game that the NHL offers. Defensively, Podkolzin could have a better understanding of stick placement and covering his point, but as a winger, that likely won’t hinder his draft stock.
Vasili Podkolzin’s draft stock got a massive boost from the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, so it will certainly be interestig to follow along his play in the upcoming season. With that said, he has demonstrated an elite scoring ability and a knack for rushing the puck with success. Comparables include Nikita Kucherov and Vladimir Tarasenko. For now, Podkolzin projects to be a top-15 selection at the 2019 NHL Draft.