The more I watch this kid play, the more confident I am that he will be an excellent NHL player.

Vasili Podkolzin played in the first regular season game for his KHL team SKA Saint Petersburg on Friday. Podkolzin was once again placed on the team’s fourth line alongside Columbus Blue Jackets draft pick Kirill Marchenko and Vegas Golden Knights draft pick Ivan Morozov. The young guns line has an average age under 20-years-old and will continue to gain the coach’s confidence as the season goes on.

It didn’t take long for Podkolzin to get on the scoresheet during the regular season.

He set up the first goal of the year for SKA when he grabbed the puck behind the net and found space at the top of the zone. Once he had enough space and a lane to shoot, he made a shot-pass to his teammate in front of the net who tipped it past the goaltender.

Here’s the entire sequence of the goal.

He did not receive any special teams time in this game, although his 20-year-old line mate Morozov found some time on the second powerplay unit as a net-front presence. That is where Podkolzin does his best work and in my opinion, I do believe that Podkolzin is more effective in that role. It should be a spot where he plans to work his way up to.

At times in the preseason, we saw Podkolzin playing penalty kill minutes as well. He did not get any time shorthanded in this game.

Even though he did not get time on either special teams unit today — he was trusted for some 4-on-4 action by his coach Valeri Bragin.

Podkolzin once again dominated possession at even strength.

I tracked his Corsi for percentage in the preseason and the final result of my tracking was that Podkolzin had a 85.7 CF%. There were some easy games for Podkolzin in the preseason so that number could be a bit inflated due to the lower competition that he faced.

In Friday’s game he had a CF% of 80.8 as he was on the ice for 21 attempted shots for and only five attempted shots against. His young guns line is outstanding in the neutral zone. The trio is able to consistently strip pucks from the opposition while being very precise with their own passes to gain the offensive zone.

Here’s a strong backcheck from Podkolzin as he helps strip the puck away from the forward as he attempts to gain the zone.

SKA would go on to win the game 2-1 and Podkolzin received 17 shifts in the game and played 12:15. He had one shot on net and delivered a team-leading three hits in the game.

It was a good start to the year for the Canucks’ top prospect and we will continue to follow his season as it goes on.

Here’s a big reverse hit from Podkolzin at the end of the game to finish off this article.