VANCOUVER – Friday wasn’t the primary time an interpreter in Vancouver was concerned in a dialog with Vasily Podkolzin. It was simply the primary time the interpreter was for him.
“I used to be speaking to Danila Klimovich yesterday,” Canucks participant improvement director Ryan Johnson mentioned Friday morning, referring to the Belarusian the Nationwide Hockey League crew drafted in July.
“There’s a language (barrier) there. Vasily got here proper over to see if he may assist. He is an engaged child. Something and all the things … Vasily is form of throwing himself into this. He’s hungry. That is the place he desires to be.”
The place Podkolzin, the Canucks’ Tenth-overall draft choose from 2019, was Friday at first of Vancouver’s prospects camp at Rogers Area was seated subsequent to interpreter Alexandra Makarevsky for the Russian winger’s introductory Zoom name with reporters.
The 20-year-old spoke his solutions in Russian to Makarevsky, who translated. But it surely was clear Podkolzin understood most of what was being requested in English.
He smiled a few occasions, shocked everybody by instantly answering in English “No, I’m not nervous” a query about transitioning to a brand new metropolis and language, and customarily appeared pleased and comfy. That is vital.
The Canucks have had such a dismal historical past with Russian gamers – at each drafting them and getting them to wish to play right here – that the foremost query when common supervisor Jim Benning chosen Podkolzin two years in the past was not whether or not the Russian may play, however would he really wish to play in North America when his Kontinental Hockey League contract expired in 2021?
Regardless of intense strain from former membership SKA St. Petersburg to remain within the KHL, the ability ahead fulfilled a promise he made to Canucks administration on draft day and signed with the NHL crew in Could.
He arrived in Vancouver earlier this month, skated informally with new teammates and different NHL professionals the final two weeks, and is anticipated to make the Canucks’ roster after he graduates from rookie camp to the crew’s principal coaching camp in Abbotsford subsequent week.
Sure, as Johnson mentioned, Podkolzin appears to be like hungry and needs to be right here. It’s a reduction.
“There was plenty of strain on him in Russia to re-sign and to maintain him there,” Benning mentioned Friday. “However his objective was at all times to come back over right here and play within the NHL. He mentioned he needed to play in the perfect league on the earth. I’m simply pleased that it has labored out to this point and he’s lastly over right here and able to take that subsequent step.
“He’s somewhat bit like Nils Hoglander (the participant the Canucks chosen after Podkolzin in 2019) the place he desires to get to the puck first, and he’ll battle to get it, however then he’s bought the ability to make performs, too. We’ve bought a bunch of fine shooters who’re going to wish to play with Vasily as a result of he’ll get in on the forecheck and get the puck for them.”
As a 19-year-old, Podkolzin had 11 factors in 35 video games for St. Petersburg final season, then matched that scoring complete in 16 playoff video games when the crew largely stopped suppressing his ice time as punishment for refusing to increase his KHL contract.
At 6-1 and 200 kilos, Podkolzin is constructed like a Russian tank. He performs a direct, bodily recreation. However he possesses sufficient velocity and ability to supply choices for Canucks coach Travis Inexperienced, who ought to be capable of play the left-shot proper winger up or down the lineup.
“For a younger participant, he has actually over the previous couple of years outlined himself,” Johnson mentioned. “Typically you get guys, even excessive picks, that are not actually positive what they will be on the professional degree. I feel he has labored actually arduous at defining his recreation. I feel he is very snug in that and the way he performs, which I feel goes to essentially assist him on this adjustment.
“He is a hard-area participant, a hard-skill participant. He is good alongside the partitions, wins puck battles, he is bought a heavy stick. He is very reliable, very conscious defensively. He’s a whole participant.”
Podkolzin admitted by means of his interpreter that there have been “a few disagreeable conditions” within the KHL, however he’s grateful for his improvement time there. He mentioned he feels he has matured and is prepared for the NHL.
He and his spouse, Sasha, will rent an English tutor to assist them, Podkolzin mentioned.
He’s additionally attending to know his new teammates. Hoglander, a Swede, is already a pal and Podkolzin this week posted on social media a photograph of himself, Hoglander and Klimovich out in Vancouver. Podkolzin and Klimovich are rooming collectively.
“I attempt to communicate English as a lot as potential,” Podkolzin mentioned by means of his interpreter. “I perceive everybody round me, and I simply want somewhat little bit of time to be taught (to talk) English in interviews.
“On ice, all of them are very highly-skilled gamers. Off the ice, they’re very nice individuals, and there is at all times one thing to speak to them about. Superb individuals.”
The Canucks at all times touted Podkolzin as “superb individuals,” believing he’d be a wonderful teammate and embrace taking part in in Canada.
“Each NHL crew has hesitations with some guys within the draft (about if and after they’ll come to North America),” Johnson mentioned. “With Vasily, we by no means felt that will be a difficulty. We at all times felt he needed to be a Canuck. We knew when he was performed within the KHL, that is the place he needed to be. And now that we’ve lastly bought our palms on him, it’s thrilling.”