ColoradoAvalanche.com is profiling draft-eligible prospects leading up to the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver on June 21-22. Forward Vasily Podkolzin is the No. 2-ranked International skater in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings. The Avalanche has the fourth and 16th overall selections in the first round of the draft.
An international star, Moscow, Russia, native Vasily Podkolzin has turned heads this season and has revealed himself to be a top prospect in this year's draft.
The right wing began the season by making a name for himself at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, where he tallied 11 points (eight goals, three assists) in five games, including recording a hat trick in Russia's 5-4 victory in the bronze-medal match.
He also finished the year with Team Russia at the 2018 U18 World Championship in April, recording four points (one goal, three assists) and earning a silver medal.
"Podkolzin is a fantastic team player," director of NHL European Scouting Goran Stubb said to NHL.com. "He was the captain for the Russian U-18 team the whole season... He's a power forward, an excellent skater. He is a leader. He takes very good care of his defensive duties."
He was one of the youngest players on the Russian squad at the 2019 World Junior Championship and he notched three assists over seven outings, helping his team win bronze.
In addition to his international performance, Podkolzin spent this past season playing professionally in his native country. The 17-year-old made his debut in the Kontinental Hockey League, playing three games with SKA St. Petersburg. He also had 13 points (eight goals, five assists) in 26 contests at the lower levels in Russia, including five points (two goals, three assists) in 14 outings in the VHL and eight points (six goals, two assists) in 12 games in the MHL.
At 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, Podkolzin pairs his size with intangibles. He is most praised for his powerful offensive nature, his competitive attitude, his speed and his playmaking ability.
At this year's World Junior A Challenge, Podkolzin finished tied for first in scoring after notching eight points (six goals, two assists) in six contests. Through the high-scrutiny situations of these international tournaments, he has proven himself to be a skilled forward that is not scared of the spotlight.
The earliest he could move to North America to play hockey is the 2021-22 season as he is under contract with St. Petersburg of the KHL for the next two years. However, with his potential and skill, he is expected to hear his name early at this year's draft in Vancouver.