Stan Smyl sputtered when he called his name when the Canucks selected him at 10th overall at the 2019 draft,  but by the end of this tournament, every Canucks fan will know exactly how to pronounce “Podkolzin”. Though some may be calling him Put-goals-in.

This year has been a roller coaster ride for Vasili Podkolzin. He has been getting inconsistent ice time to say the least this year with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL. He has bounced around between three Russian leagues: The VHL, MHL and KHL, which probably goes a long way towards explaining his relatively pedestrian counting stats this year.

This will be the best showcase that Canucks fans will get all year, and they’re liable to be enticed by his high-end toolkit. Unfortunately, those fans will have to be patient. The Canucks knew what they were getting into when they drafted Podkolzin. He’s going to be in Russia for two seasons and won’t begin his North American career until after his contract expires.

Last year Podkolzin was the rare 17-year-old who was actually getting ice time with the Russians, who are infamous for leaning on older players in this tournament. Vasili returns this season with more confidence and an even bigger role with the team. Podkolzin has a chance of being one of the best players in this tournament, and will be elligible to play in the 2021 tournament as well.

Podkolzin has been projected to be on the top line for Russia this year. He will get power play time and has been setting up a ton of goals in the pre-tournament games. This tournament will likely be the highlight of the year for “SwagZilla”, a nickname given to Podkolzin by Wyatt Arndt and Jay Bowman of Trust the Process.

Canucks fans should be excited to watch his end-to-end rushes, brutish strength- and high end playmaking ability. These three skills will stick out like a clean-shaven twentysomething in East Van. Podkolzin will be dangling and leaning on defenders all tournament and will be a highlight machine if he can finish some of his magical rushes.

The Canucks selected him 10th overall because of his high floor. He is already bigger and stronger than most of the players in this tournament and will be given a ton of ice time and relied on to be a part of the top scoring line on Russia’s team.

I’m so excited to watch the magic flow out of this kid. His two way-game is very strong and he will be an absolute monster in the corners and we have seen him throw some huge hits if they present themselves.

The best part about Podkolzin being in this tournament is that many Canucks fans will get to see why the team drafted him with their first round pick. We haven’t seen a ton of highlights come out of Russia due to his limited ice time.

If you have the chance to tune into Russia’s games this year, you should make it a priority. Podkolzin will be one of the best players in this year’s tournament, and likely next year’s too. He should score some highlight reel goals, make beautiful passes, and use his strength to dominate physically all tournament long. Strap yourselves in, this kid is going to be climbing to the top of his roller coaster season over the next two weeks. We should enjoy the ride before he dives back down to his prescribed role as a 13th forward in the KHL.