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2021 Canucks Top 25 Under 25: #5 Vasily Podkolzin

Coming into this season as the top prospect on the Canucks depth chart, Vasily Podkolzin finds himself at #5 on the Top 25 under 25 rankings.

Vancouver Canucks v Philadelphia Flyers
Vasily Podkolzin #92 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates a goal during the second period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on October 15, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Welcome to the 2021 Edition of the Vancouver Canucks Top 25 Under 25 Rankings. The list includes all players born after January 1st, 1997. Seven staff writers (Beggsy, Westy, Kent Basky, CanucksAbbyFan2, Markus Meyer, Noah Strang, Harsunder Singh H) and two outside writers (Daniel Gee & Cam Robinson) cast votes for the project.

There has been a ton of optimism surrounding Vasily Podkolzin ever since he was drafted by the Canucks during the 2019 draft. A bruising winger who has a knack for combining size with skill, Podkolzin has all the attributes to become a legitimate top 6 power forward in the league.

He loves going to the dirty areas and creating opportunities for his linemates, whether it be by chipping in on-board battles and freeing up the puck, or going to the front of the net and converting on rebound opportunities.

If anything, he is exactly the element the Canucks need in a forward group that possesses a plethora of skill, but really lacks a sufficient amount of grit and tenacity. Without a doubt, Podkolzin would serve as a significant catalyst to help address this lack of grit and physicality on the Canucks roster.

In addition to his tenacity and offensive skills, Podkolzin possesses strong defensive and two-way abilities, which could also make him a nice option on the penalty kill. That would be a huge bonus for the Canucks, who desperately need help in this department.

Barring any hurdles in his development, the 20-year-old has all the tools to be a game-changer as well as a reliable two-way player in the Canucks’ top 6 down the road.

Scouting Report

So far in limited NHL duty, Podkolzin has only been getting about 8 minutes of ice time per game. He’s still managed to make an impact, highlighted by his first NHL goal against the Philadelphia Flyers.

According to numerous scouting reports, one of Podkolzin’s standout skills is the fact that he can absolutely snipe the puck. This was one of the reasons that led to the Moscow native scoring 8 goals in 5 games for the U18 Russian National Team in the 2019 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup Tournament.

Podkolzin also gave Canucks fans a taste of some of that sniping ability in the Philidelphia game last Friday, as he was able to rip the puck over the glove of Carter Hart for his first tally in the NHL. There is no denying the fact that the wicked release on Podkolzin’s shot is the primary tool in his arsenal, to help make him a true natural goal scorer in this league.

That said, an attribute that Podkolzin would need to work on in order to work up to his true potential is his speed as well as his transitional play. Although the bulky winger does possess a good amount of speed as far as his skating is concerned, he still needs to work on his explosiveness after his first stride. If this trait can also be added to Podkolzin’s game, it would really increase his ability to take the puck hard to the net and cause numerous headaches in the offensive zone for both the defenders as well as the goaltender.

Regardless, Podkolzin has all the tools to be a legitimate offensive weapon and a thorn at the side of his opponents. If he can also refine some of the transitional and skating elements of his game, then he would be on the path to develop into a feared and respected power forward.

What the future holds for Podkolzin

At the time of writing this article, Podkolzin has played in 4 games for the Canucks and he has shown that he is ready to be an everyday player in the NHL. Travis Green and the coaching staff have currently been using Podkolzin in a sheltered and minimal role, primarily deploying him on the 3rd and 4th lines. However, there is no doubt that the ice-time and special teams’ minutes are bound to increase once Podkolzin gets into the flow of the team and adds a little more consistency to his overall game.

What do you think Canucks fans? Do you think Podkolzin has shown enough to prove that he is ready to be a full-time NHL player for this Canucks team? Are you a fan of the role he is currently playing and the minutes he is getting in the lineup? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments down below!