Rangers Draft Prep: Scouting Vasili Podkolzin

Based on projections I have the Rangers finishing somewhere in the 8-9 slot, but there are things that can alter draft position such as getting more points than expected, getting less points than expected, or winning the lottery, which I do not see happening.

I am going to write about this particular prospect with the assumption the Rangers get in the 4-6 range; something that is extremely possible. As mentioned, I do think the Rangers finish in the 8-9 range, but with just a few less losses than expected, they can easily slide into that 4-6 range.

If the Rangers pick in that range, and he is there, I expect Gorton and co. to run the card up and put in Vasili Podkolzin’s name. Earlier in the year, many had Podkolzin as the consensus number three pick after the big two in Hughes and Kakko. Right now, many have Dach, Cozens, Zegras, and some others ahead of Podkolzin, but it is obviously likely that a team falls in love with him at 3 or 4 and takes him. I am going to write this with the assumption he is there for the Rangers in that pick range of 4-6.

Before I dive into Podkolzin’s background, type of game he plays, and statistics, I will tell you this much about him; it was almost as if he was built in a lab for Gorton, Clark, and the rest of Rangers brass. What I mean by that is the type of player Podkolzin is and how he is the epitome of what they look for. I will discuss more of this in the part that discusses the type of player Vasili is.

Let us first look at his background:

Podkolzin was born, and still lives in Russia. He is a 17 year old playing in the KHL for SKA – St. Petersburg. He will turn 18 in June of this year. For those of you unfamiliar with St. Pete, they are the best team in the KHL, which is arguably the second best league in the world behind only the NHL. This is a team that consists of Pavel Datsyuk, and until this year, Ilya Kovalchuk. Podkolzin has been sent down to St. Pete’s minor league team for the majority of the year. Unfortunately, Podkolzin hasn’t been able to flash his talent all that often in the KHL because he is only 17 playing for the best team in the league. Vasili has made a name for himself playing in international tournaments.

The type of player:

Podkolzin is a winger, but he is an all situation type of player and is not just a “goal scoring” winger. Podkolzin plays 200 feet of the ice length, and (what will be for him) 85 feet of the ice width. He is a constant hustler, getting on any and every loose puck that he can trying to create a break out or if his team is in the offensive zone, a scoring chance. I am not considering him a “pure goal scoring winger”, but that does not mean he does not have goal scoring ability.

He actually has quite an incredible shot. Vasili has a marvelous release, and can create scoring lanes for himself all over the ice. Overall, as I mentioned before, Podkolzin is an all situation type of player. He will play the entire length of the ice for you, hustle back on defense, kill a penalty, score a PP goal, assist on an even strength goal, or score an even strength goal. He does not have a particular label and that is what makes him such a great prospect. As I mentioned earlier in the article, he was built in a lab for Gorton, Clark, and the rest of Rangers brass because of this.

Rangers brass loves players that can play all situations, be hard-nosed, get to dirty areas, and do what is asked of them, and Podkolzin fits that build…..not to mention he is from Russia, and as we have seen of late, the Rangers have fallen in love with Russian players. If the Rangers have any chance at Podkolzin, I believe he will be there pick outside of the top two in Hughes and Kakko. If they have the third pick of the draft and those two are gone, I would not be surprised in the slightest if they took Podkolzin. I personally love Podkolzin as a prospect and think he will translate to a top-6 forward in the NHL.

To summarize, Cam Robinson of Dobber Prospects said this about Vasili Podkolzin – “A shifty, creative and dangerous winger who loves to use quick cuts. He can split the defense and finish it himself or draw coverage and deftly distribute to a cutting teammate. A potential high-end point producer at the NHL-level.” This statement was made on December 20th, 2018.

This is a 6 minute, 17 second video of Podkolzin’s highlights from the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in 2018. Right off the bat in the first clip, Podkolzin displays his speed, skill, and strength. He takes the puck the entire length of the ice skating head-on to the Swedish defenders with a full head of steam. He is able to control the puck then score after making a move at a high speed, splitting defenders, and falling to the ice. This clip right here displays exactly what I mean when I say he is an all situation type player. Look at the very next highlight starting at 1:07. Podkolzin is on the weak side of the play waiting to make a decision. He notices his teammate makes a play on the half wall to posses the puck and he peels off to the far side dot giving himself time and space. He receives the pass and waits a second to see what the goalie is giving him. Podkolzin rips an absolute SNIPE top corner for the goal displaying his incredible shooting ability; another one of his many tools. Finally, let’s look at the clip starting at 2:56. Podkolzin is one on one with a defender coming down the right wing. The defender keeps his leverage inside, giving Podkolzin the otuside (as you are supposed to as a defense-man). Podkolzin decides to make a play on his own with what he is given. He drops his left shoulder using his tremendous strength and heads to the net where he finishes (what I believe to be) a backhand-forehand goal. In this video Podkolzin also displays his incredible ability to pass the puck, but to me what stands out most about him is his strength. He may not look like the biggest kid, but he is incredibly strong. He drops in between defenders with ease and is not afraid to go to the net. If he is available for the Rangers where Hughes and Kakko are already taken, I guarantee Gorton and co. draft him. Podkolzin is a fabulous prospect, and I would be thrilled to have him playing for the Blueshirts.

Podkolzin’s Statistics:

2018 – 2019 Tournaments:

Hlinka Gretzky Cup: 5 games: 8 goals – 3 assists – 11 points

International – Jr: 8 games: 10 goals – 5 assists – 15 points

WJAC – 19: 6 games: 3 goals – 5 assists – 8 points

WJC – 20: 7 games: 0 goals – 3 assists – 3 points

International – Jr: 12 games: 1 goals – 4 assists – 5 points

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