As the NHL continues to focus on trying to complete its 2019/20 season, the KHL has instead cancelled its 2019/20 season and has now started up its 2020/21 season on target.
With the opening of SKA’s development camp yesterday, Vasily Podkolzin’s expected KHL swan song season is underway.
Лагерь развития СКА в «Хоккейном городе» - старт уже завтра! ️— Хоккейный клуб СКА (@hcSKA) July 3, 2020
38 молодых игроков, мощный тренерский состав и качественная работа на протяжении девяти дней. Силовое катание, теория, специальные занятия для каждого амплуа – мы там тоже будем и все покажем! pic.twitter.com/ayvsXcxxE9
Бодрее, бодрее! Поможет утренний зал стартового дня лагеря развития СКА.— Хоккейный клуб СКА (@hcSKA) July 5, 2020
Работа над физической подготовкой в лагере - ежедневная. Сегодня, во второй день, молодёжь ждут не менее упорные занятия. Обо всем расскажем мы и они сами Поехали!#ЛагерьРазвитияСКА pic.twitter.com/eYGjwhuabS
Podkolzin is already whetting the appetites of Canucks’ fans with his motor and skill level on display at the development camp.
Last season the SKA organization bounced him around regularly between their KHL pro team, VHL minor pro club and their MHL junior squad. This season he is expected to get regular top six forward minutes and power play time in the KHL. He may also get an opportunity to kill some penalties from new SKA head coach Valeri Bragin.
Bragin was Podkolzin’s U20 head coach for his two World Junior Championships’ (WJC) appearances to-date. He was so enamoured with Podkolzin’s work ethic that he gave him significant minutes as a 17 year old during Podkolzin’s first appearance at the 2019 WJC tournament. He also named him as an assistant captain for his second kick at the can.
Podkolzin was the first and only 17 year old I had ever seen Bragin trust outside of Vasy in goal.— Danny Tiffany (@dantiffany30) June 5, 2020
Bragin’s top line at the 2020 WJC may now become his top line for SKA this season. The Russian kid line is comprised of the Vegas Golden Knights 2018 2nd round pick center Ivan Morozov, the Columbus Blue Jackets 2018 2nd round pick Kirill Marchenko and Podkolzin on their right wing. They exhibited their chemistry in the second half of SKA’s season last year when they received some bottom six minutes on the ice. They could become a major offensive force together this season.
Podkolzin’s U20 coach for his third and final WJC in 2021 is former Vancouver Canucks’ player Igor Larionov. He has shut down his work as a player agent in order to take on the coaching role. He is also a major supporter of Podkolzin. He recently likened his style and leadership to Hall of Famer Mark Messier...not the perimeter player who played for the Canucks...but the dogged bull who won multiple Stanley Cups playing with the Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers prior to his disappointing tenure as a Canuck. Larionov also strongly indicated that Podkolzin is the leading candidate to be named the captain of Russia’s U20 2021 WJC team.
Who does Podkolzine remind Larionov of in the NHL : “That is a good question, Mark Messier, I see Messier in him. His character and desire to get better enables him to get better and develop.”— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) June 9, 2020
There is a good chance Podkolzin could be the captain of the Russian junior team says Larionov, “You can read between the lines, he will be a strong candidate to get the C.” #Canucks— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) June 9, 2020
Larionov also counsels Canucks’ fans to not be worried about Podkolzin’s further development. He says he will make sure Podkolzin is ready for the NHL.
Larionov says don’t worry about Podkolzin playing one more year in Russia, “He will be fine next year in Russia, he is improving rapidly. I will spend lots of time with him, I know what Travis Green is looking for in players,— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) June 9, 2020
I will teach him what to expect in the NHL.”
Next week Podkolzin will report to SKA’s main training camp for medicals and then will hit the ice for practice starting on or about July 15th, 2020. SKA will then open its pre season schedule playing four games at the Sochi Hockey Open tournament which takes place from August 4th-9th, 2020. The KHL regular season is scheduled to open on September 2nd, 2020.
The only barriers left for Podkolzin to overcome from joining the Vancouver Canucks during their 2020/21 season is Covid-19 and perhaps Russian lawmakers.
Meanwhile, Russian hockey is about to institute a new rule, which many are calling "sports serfdom." Until a certain age, a player belongs to his KHL team, even when the contract expires, and cannot sign with an NHL team, unless he buys his own freedom.— Slava Malamud (@SlavaMalamud) June 29, 2020
Russia be Russiaing.
But the hockey-gods willing, Vancouver Canucks’ fans can expect Podkolzin to don the blue-and-green uniform in time to get acclimatized to the NHL game during the regular season and perhaps become a difference maker for the club in their hoped-for next playoffs of 2021.
If the KHL stays on track & starts & finishes their season as usual & the NHL starts next season on Jan 1 as expected then Vasily Podkolzin would be free to join the #Canucks on May 1 with lots of games left in the regular season and with a chance to make a playoffs impact.— CanucksAbbyFan2 (@Fan2Abby) July 2, 2020