2019 NHL Draft Profile: Vasili Podkolzin

Vasili Podkolzin - SKA-Neva St. Petersburg - VHL

Position: RW, Shoots Left
Birthday: Jun 24, 2001, Moskva, RUS
Age on Draft Day: 17, but turns 18 that week
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 190 lbs
2018-19 Stats: MHL; 12 GP, 6G, 2A, VHL; 14 GP, 2G, 3A, KHL; 3 GP, 0 PTS
(MHL is a junior league, VHL similar to AHL for the KHL)
International: WJC U18; 7 GP, 1G, 3A, WJC U20; 7 GP, 0G, 3A, Hlinka U18; 5GP, 8G, 3A

NHL Central Scouting (EUR Skaters): #2
Future Considerations: #4
Elite Prospects: #3
Hockey Prospects: #3
Bob McKenzie: #3
Corey Pronman: #12, High-end NHL Prospect “Projects as a top-line forward who can play PP1”


Vasili Podkolzin is an interesting prospect because his projection in the 2019 draft can vary quite a bit depending on the source. For much of the season Podkolzin has been ranked just behind the Big 2 of Hughes and Kakko as the clear No. 3 man. For awhile it was a clear distinction between him and the rest of the top prospects just behind him.

But that gap appears to have narrowed as the draft approaches. A lot of that is likely due to Podkolzin playing in a different league than most other prospects. Podkolzin played mostly in Russia’s secondary men’s league in the VHL. As per his stat line listed above he had put up fairly strong numbers in the Russian junior league earning his shot in the men’s league where his numbers won’t blow you away with just 2 goals and 3 assists. But that is playing against men, in what is much more difficult competition for a 17 year old especially compared to what the rest of his draft class has had to face in their opponents.

The only apples to apples comparison is his extensive international resume. Podkolzin produced a mixed bag to be sure playing for Russia in various tournaments. His WJC numbers for the U20 division don’t excite you with 0 goals and 3 assists. Even at the U18’s he scored only once amongst 4 points at the tournament where he should’ve been one of the leading scorers. But in some smaller tournaments like the Hlinka Gretzky and his tour for the World Junior challenge he put up some stellar numbers with a combined 11 goals and 8 assists in 11 total games. Therein lies the challenge with projecting Podkolzin, which of those performances are truer to the player he will become.

Among scouting reports on Podkolzin, one universal trait noted amongst most reports was that he never lacks a high compete and drive level in his play. There’s an old, outdated notion that sometimes Russian players can lack that skill, but Podkolzin certainly does not as he battles hard for loose pucks. His bread and butter is his shot according to most scouting reports. He also has a strong puck handling ability and is physical in maintaining possession of the puck.

Generally speaking Podkolzin has the whole package as far as is skill set goes. His skating received mixed reviews with some indicating he has good top level speed where others indicate he may project to more of an average skater at the NHL level. It seems like where maybe he lacks some fluidity, his motor makes up the difference.

His passing talent received mostly positive reviews with some indicating he had a great ability to thread passes with others noting his passing skill was serviceable but not terrific. Common among reviews of him is he is a player that you always notice on the ice making plays with either a net drive, shot, or making space for himself and that he possesses great leadership.

In terms of if he is a player that fits the Wings at No. 6 spot in draft, he seems like a player with a higher ceiling, but lower floor than others being considered in the 3-10 range of the draft.

Given the scouting reports and some mixed performances, he is a player who could turn into a complete steal because teams got too focused on his production and ignored his top level skill set.  There is a strong chance of a Zadina type situation unfolding where a player once commonly projected at No. 3 finds his way out of the Top 5 and giving the Wings a chance at him.

With the stock of players like Turcotte and Byram skyrocketing, Podkolzin has trended slightly in the other direction as of late. Part of that could be his contract situation as his current agreement in the KHL will likely keep him out of North America for at least two years. Most teams picking this high get a little antsy at the idea of waiting that long to see a player at least take part in AHL games.

The Wings, however, are in a position that they can afford to be patient if they think this is a player who possesses game changing ability. Another knock, by no fault of his own, is he is a winger which is the position that carries the least amount of premium with it. At the end of the day while Podkolzin would be a decent pick in the No. 6 spot, if available, for the Wings and he has the type of talent that can make you regret passing on him; there will likely be players available who are more of a sure thing that the management team should lean in that direction.

Should the Red Wings draft Podkolzin at No. 6?

Yes, absolutely, he’d be a steal160
No, too much risk325
Maybe, depends who’s been taken505