Name: Vasili Podkolzin
Team: SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)
Position: Right Wing
Date of Birth: June 24, 2001
Hometown: Podolsk, Russia
Height/Weight: 6’1″, 190 lbs
*Eligible for 2019 NHL Draft*
Areas of Strength
- Puck Skills
- Ability To Make Plays At Top Speed
- Versatility and Intangibles
Areas of Weakness
- Statistical Production
- Piecing Skill Together Into Results
Scouting Report: Podkolzin was dominant at this summer’s Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, establishing himself as a top prospect for the 2019 NHL Draft. His 11 points in 5 games tied him for the tournament lead with super-prospect Alexis Lafrenière, who isn’t eligible until 2020. His performance at the Hlinka followed a trend of exceptional international play from Podkolzin– through 33 total international games, the Russian has tallied 34 points. In league play, however, Podkolzin has been a completely different player– a significantly less effective one– and that should be a big concern. Internationally, Podkolzin’s been one of the best players in his age group, but in Russia’s U17 league, where he spent 2017-18, Podkolzin finished just 33rd in points-per-game, which is nowhere near what would be expected of a player of his calibre. He’s off to a slow start to this season with just 7 points in 10 MHL games as well, so his production is a real issue that should be monitored throughout the season.
When statistics are disregarded, Podkolzin’s top prospect status becomes much clearer. Podkolzin is an exceptionally talented winger with a two-way that is far more developed than that of most players his age. He competes hard in all three zones, and has the versatility to succeed in nearly any role, offensive or defensive. Podkolzin has incredible skill on the puck– he’s balanced, can protect the puck, and has a remarkable ability to manipulate the puck as well as the defenders trying to keep it away from their net. Even more impressive is how he can continue to process the game and utilize his skills at a high level at top speed. As a shooting threat, Podkolzin continues to be dangerous, with a precise and powerful wrister that he can get off quickly.
Podkolzin can run a powerplay from half wall, distributing the puck throughout the offensive zone while also acting as a threat to shoot or drive the net. His skillset is perfectly curated for offensive special teams, with the soft hands to receive passes and manipulate the defensive unit, the passing to thread the puck cross-ice or down low, and the shot to be a one-time option or a shooting threat when handling the puck on the half wall. On the penalty kill, he continues his effectiveness, able to take away lanes, get in the puck quickly, and anticipate the play to deny opportunities and get the puck out. Nifty puck handling from the perimeter, able to create offensive opportunities with elite vision and confidence in his puck distributing. Podkolzin crafty puck handling and slippery nature, he attacks lanes with the puck and is able to handle at top speed with pressure mounting, tenacious one the puck who doesn’t like to turn the puck over.
He’s also an absolute force on the forecheck– as an exceptional skater, he can bear down on the defencemen extremely quickly, and shows a commitment to playing the body. He’s the type of attacker that defencemen hate, since his quickness and willingness to lay on the body makes breaking the puck out a nightmare, and that shows in just how often he’s able to disrupt the play down low.
Podkolzin is about as complete as a player as they come, while still being quite effective offensively. He’s a dangerous shooter and a talented passer, has breakaway speed, and the stickhandling to cut through defences, making him a major attacking threat whenever he has the puck. He works hard, can succeed in a variety of situations, and is just about everything a coach wants in a player. His skillset appears electrifying, but he’s struggled to put everything together into tangible results so far in his career, so there’s reason to be little wary of him. If that doesn’t correct itself this season, it could greatly affect his hopes at the draft, and would throw a lot of doubt into his future career.
2016-17 — Vityaz Podolsk U16 (Russia U16): 29GP – 16G – 23A – 39PTS – 45PIM
2017-18 — Vityaz Podolsk U17 (Russia U17): 21GP – 13G – 17A – 30PTS – 20PIM
2018 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup Bronze Medal