Another week is in the books, and we finally have some regular-season games to talk about for many of the Vancouver Canucks prospects overseas. Vasili Podkolzin had started his season in our last update, but now Nils Hoglander, Dmitri Zhukenov, and a few others have also hit the ground running in their respective leagues. I’m sure you’re all wondering what happened, so let’s get into the latest Canucks Prospects Report!
Podkolzin’s Ice Time is a Concern
Despite Podkolzin’s strong possession numbers detailed in our last update, SKA St Petersburgh’s head coach Valeri Bragin continues to play him on the fourth line and subsequently limits his ice time. In the last three games, he has played an average of nine minutes and had a season-low 6:40 at one point as well. He continuously gets benched in third periods and even has to wait around for his first shift sometimes. His most recent game saw him play 8:37, so I guess that’s a little bit of an improvement, but that’s still not good enough for a player that continuously wins the Corsi-for and transition battle most nights.
It’s good that this season is Podkolzin’s last in the KHL because having less than 10 minutes in a game is not good for his development. His production has obviously suffered as he still only has two points in seven games so far. His Corsi-for numbers continue to be strong, but unless he is deployed more often in offensive situations, his point totals will not go up.
I’m sure Podkolzin and Canucks fans alike are counting down the days until he can leave Russia and join the Canucks full time. #FreePodz could be trending soon if his situation does not change.
Hoglander Shines in Season Debut
Despite playing on the first line in the last game of the preseason, Hoglander debuted on the fourth line and second power play unit. That didn’t seem to bother him though as he finished the game with two assists. They were both secondary helpers, but points are points after all. He only had 11:19 in ice time but made the most of it when he was deployed.
Hopefully, that gets Hoglander more ice time down the road because just like Podkolzin, being limited is not good for his development. Fortunately, Hoglander moved up the lineup throughout the game and was played a lot in four-on-four situations and even saw time on the first unit power play. So his situation is not as bad as his, since his coaches and general manager seem to recognize his offensive talents.
As for Hoglander’s contract situation, he is on loan to Rogle BK and can join the Canucks as soon as training camp breaks in a couple of months.
Zhukenov Had a Productive Week
Dmitri Zhukenov, who is still unsigned by the Canucks after being selected 114th overall in 2015, had a productive week in the VHL (the KHL’s version of the American Hockey League). His most recent game saw him post a goal and an assist en route to a 6-1 win. He now has five points in his last five games and is on a four-game point streak as well.
Zhukenov is 23-years-old and the Canucks will have his rights until 2024, so there’s still plenty of time for them to sign him and potentially bring him over to North America. He last played there during the 2016-17 season when he was a member of the Chicoutimi Saguenéens of the QMJHL. He played two seasons and accumulated 33 goals and 122 points in 128 games. Since then he has bounced around the KHL, MHL, and VHL. He also saw some time in the Czech league during the 2018-19 season.
It’s unclear if Zhukenov will ever come back to North America, but if he keeps up this kind of production, he could see more time in the KHL and that could reignite interest from the Canucks. He would be a very intriguing addition to the Utica Comets and could follow in the footsteps of Lukas Jasek and become a legitimate prospect once again.
Canucks Other Overseas Prospects
The regular season for most of the leagues has begun. Arvid Costmar won a spot on Linkoping but was a healthy scratch for the game against Hoglander’s Rogle BK. Below are the updated statistics for every Canucks prospect playing overseas, and stay tuned for the next update as more and more players get their seasons started.[table id=364 /]
My name is Matthew and I cover the Vancouver Canucks, and Vancouver Giants here at the Hockey Writers. I am also the head of the prospects and NHL Draft coverage. In addition to writing, I host the Canucks & Pucks podcast as well. I am passionate about the Canucks, prospects, and all things hockey.