It’s time for another edition of the Vancouver Canucks prospects report. Highlights include Vasily Podkolzin’s heroic two-game performance in the KHL Playoffs, Joni Jurmo’s continued offensive production in the Mestis, and Jackson Kunz’s return to the scoresheet. The Utica Comets also returned to action this past week after a long and arduous battle with COVID-19.
That and a whole lot more as we continue to recap and analyze the top performances of prospects throughout the Canucks pipeline.
Utica Comets Update
The Comets returned to the ice and to fans in the stands at the Adirondack Bank Centre this past week after a long hiatus. COVID-19 protocols ended up postponing all but two games in March, which resulted in almost a month away from game action.
Fortunately, they returned no worse for wear as everyone was confirmed healthy and ready to play. The rust has been evident though, as they dropped their first two games to the Rochester Americans and Syracuse Crunch, 4-2 and 5-1 respectively.
Time off the ice didn’t seem to phase Jack Rathbone as he scored his second professional goal on Saturday with a blast from the point on the power play. He also continued to display his NHL-caliber breakout passes and mobility playing again on a pairing with fellow rookie Jett Woo. Through six pro games, he has two goals and six points, further confirming to everyone that he should be plying his trade in the NHL as soon as next season.
Jonah Gadjovich has become a bit of a scoring machine this season, as he scored his ninth goal of 2020-21 in only his 10th game. For those of you keeping track, he is now four goals away from matching his total from last season and it took 38 games for him to get to that point. At this rate, he should be there by the end of the month.
Most of Gadjovich’s nine goals have been scored a few feet from the crease, as he’s used his massive 6-foot-2, 209-pound frame to barge his way to the net and either tip pucks or pounce on rebounds. If he can translate that net-front presence to the NHL, the Canucks could have their own Tomas Holmstrom or Patrick Hornqvist in their lineup in a couple of seasons.
Kole Lind didn’t play in this game, as he’s currently on the Canucks’ Taxi Squad in Vancouver. After recovering from a facial injury, he is probably just a few days away from making his NHL debut. With the NHL announcing the schedule for the rest of the Canucks’ season on Saturday and the potential for injuries down the road, he may see a lot of time in the lineup, maybe even the top-six.
This is a huge opportunity for me. I’ve been waiting for this for the past few years. Just going through all these growing pains early in my career, it built up to this, this opportunity.Kole Lind on his upcoming NHL debut
Lind has come a long way since struggling to find his footing in the AHL during the 2018-19 season. Since then, he has looked more confident with the puck on his stick and has rediscovered the form that got him selected in the second round back in 2017. Before getting sidelined, he already had five goals and eight points and was excelling as a converted winger, centering the top line with veteran Sven Baertschi.
Comets’ Next Games: Apr 13/14 vs. Syracuse Crunch, Apr 16 vs. Providence Bruins
Vasily Podkolzin – SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
After going pointless in three games, Podkolzin broke out in a big way on Thursday with a three-point night capping off a heroic performance to keep SKA St. Petersburg alive in the KHL Playoffs. He wasn’t done there either, as he continued his hot streak with another two goals in Saturday’s game, including the game-winner in triple overtime.
Podkolzin just won’t be denied in these playoffs, despite the lack of ice time. Even amid his team-leading 11 points in 15 games, head coach Valeri Bragin stubbornly doesn’t use him consistently. In Game 3, with his team staring a 3-0 deficit in the face, he refused to play arguably his best and most clutch player. Podkolzin ended up with only 3:17 of ice time and was virtually benched for most of the game.
Hopefully, Bragin has seen the light now with Podkolzin dragging his team from the brink of elimination to only one game away from tying the series 3-3. With his game-winner on Saturday, he is now the youngest SKA forward to ever score an overtime goal in the playoffs and is also tied with Vitali Kravtsov for the most points ever by a U20 skater in KHL playoff history. I would say that’s pretty good, and deserving of a lot more ice time than he’s been getting so far.
Next Games: Apr 12 vs. CSKA Moscow (Game 6)
Joni Jurmo – Kiekko-Espoo (Mestis)
Jurmo has not stopped putting up points since our last update. He is now on a six-game point streak and has two goals and nine points in his last nine games. Despite his best efforts, Kiekko-Espoo was still eliminated from the playoffs after two straight losses to Hermes by a combined score of 7-5. He finished his successful stint in the Mestis with three goals and eight points in ten games.
Dmitri Zlodeyev – MHK Dynamo Moskva (MHL)
Don’t look now but Dmitri Zlodeyev might be raising a Kharlamov Cup very soon. MHK Dynamo Moskva has swept their first two opponents and is now in the finals against Loko Yaroslavi. His team is also riding a 19-game winning streak going back to the regular season. So I would say they have a pretty good chance at winning it all.
Zlodeyev has been relatively quiet in the goal column but has put up three assists in six playoff games so far. He continues to be an intriguing case to watch, as he possesses all the attributes of an elite two-way checking line center. Once he comes over to North America, we will see how much of it will translate to the smaller ice and subsequently, the NHL.
Next Games: Apr 15/16/19/20 vs. Loko Yaroslavi
Linus Karlsson – BIK Karlskoga (HockeyAllsvenskan)
After a relatively easy series in the first round against Vasteras IK, Karlsson and BIK Karlskoga are locked in a death match against IF Bjorkloven in the second round. After splitting the first four, with BIK Karlskoga winning two overtime games, they are now heading into a pivotal Game 5 where one team will look to take a stranglehold on the series.
Karlsson has not been his usual productive self against IF Bjorkloven, with only two points in four games so far. He also saw his lowest ice time in a while during Game 4, logging only 15:57 after five straight games of nearly 20 minutes. In eight playoff games, he has three goals and six points.
Next Games: Apr 12/14 vs. IF Bjorkloven
Jackson Kunz – Greenbay Gamblers
After going pointless in two games, Jackson Kunz broke out in a big way on Friday against the USNTP Juniors, assisting on goals by Victor Mancini, Jake Schmaltz, and Damien Carfagna en route to a 5-4 victory. He followed that up with a pointless effort on Saturday but still finished the weekend with another three points added to his impressive first season in the USHL.
Kunz still needs to work on his skating, which is by far his biggest hurdle to making it to the professional leagues, but like we’ve seen with Bo Horvat in the past, that weakness can be rectified with the right coaching. Nevertheless, it’s going to interesting to watch how he adjusts his game to the NCAA level with the University of North Dakota next season.
Next Games: Apr 14 vs. Dubuque, Apr 16 vs. Team USA, Apr 17 vs. Chicago Steel
Jack Malone – Youngstown Phantoms
After recording his 100th point in the USHL during our last update, Malone added another point to his total on the weekend against the vaunted Chicago Steel. However, he and his team couldn’t stop 2021 Draft hopefuls Matthew Coronato and Matthew Samoskevich, as they put up five goals and seven points between the two of them. The Youngstown Phantoms ended up dropping all three games by a combined score of 14-2 and will be licking their wounds as they travel back home for another meeting with them on Apr 15. With the assist, he now has 7 goals and 32 points in 37 games.
Next Games: Apr 15 vs. Chicago Steel, Apr 16/17 vs. Muskegon Lumberjacks
That does it for another edition of the Canucks prospects report. Stay tuned for more next week as we continue to bring you all the updates from here and overseas!
All statistics were provided by Elite Prospects
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.