May 31: Podkolzin told Sport24 in Russia that he is willing to play in the AHL if that’s what the Canucks management wants him to do and is not considering a return to Russia or using a European Assignment Clause. That’s good news for Vancouver, who can bring the teenaged forward along slowly if he’s not quite ready to make an impact at the start of the season.
May 30: The Vancouver Canucks announced they have signed top prospect Vasily Podkolzin to a three-year, entry-level contract. The winger was the team’s 10th-overall pick in the 2019 NHL draft. The Athletic’s Thomas Drance reports that the deal will be for the full $925K cap hit along with full Schedule A bonuses, making it a $1.775MM actual cap hit.
“Vasily is a competitor who plays an aggressive game,” said Canucks general manager Jim Benning. “He’s effective using his size and skill to get to the net and produce offensively. We’re pleased to sign him today and look forward to adding him to our young core of skilled players.”
The winger should provide the team with an impressive power forward for years to come, although his height is debated with his KHL team listing him as 6-foot-3, while the Canucks have him at 6-foot-1. Regardless of his exact size, his high-end skating and his physical make-up present the team with one of their more interesting prospects. He likely will be an immediate fit in Vancouver’s top-six and will be a top Calder Trophy candidate.
The 19-year-old Podkolzin is coming off a full season in the KHL where he scored five goals and 11 points in 35 games with SKA St. Petersburg in limited minutes. He also captained Team Russia in the World Junior Championships, scoring two goals and four points in seven games as Russia lost in the bronze medal game to Finland.
There was speculation during the season that Podkolzin might come over to Vancouver in April after his KHL season ended and burn the first year of his entry-level deal. However, the youngster opted instead to stay in Russia and focus on making Russia’s World Championship roster, which he did not make. However, the chances that Podkolzin would have seen much action after having secured a work visa and sat through quarantine seemed unlikely.