In normal circumstances, the Vancouver Canucks would be preparing for training camp and fans would be watching the Young Stars Tournament in Penticton. But with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and Stanley Cup Playoffs going on right now, that is simply not the case.
Fortunately, there are a number of top prospects playing overseas right now either preparing for or already playing regular-season games. Arguably the top two prospects in the system are playing live games, so it’s going to be exciting to track them in the coming months. So without further ado, let’s see how they are doing in the debut of the Canucks Prospects Report!
Hoglander Turning Heads in the Preseason
In a world where COVID-19 doesn’t exist, Nils Hoglander is preparing to earn a spot in the Canucks lineup for the NHL regular season. But that’s not the reality of things, and he is forced to start another season in the Swedish Hockey League with Rogle BK. Fortunately, he is on a two-month loan with them, so he will be free to join the Canucks just before the 2020-21 season begins.
It will be perfect for me to start the season here and then go over to their training camp. Then we will see how it goes, either I take a seat or I will come back.Nils Hoglander on his playing status going into the 2020-21 season
It’s still only the preseason, but Hoglander looks ready to make the jump to the NHL. He’s been a standout so far with three goals and eight points in seven games and has been elevated to the top line. It remains to be seen if he can maintain that pace into the regular season, but it’s great to see that type of production and confidence from a player that could contribute to the Canucks as soon as December.
Hoglander turned heads last season with two lacrosse goals and showed off his creativity once again with a slick between the legs move in a recent preseason shootout. He didn’t score on it, but the fact that he tried it was exciting in itself. If he can translate that confidence to the NHL, the Canucks are going to have yet another exciting Swede in their lineup. He may not have the star power Elias Pettersson has, but even if he becomes a 10-15 goal threat in the bottom-six, that’s good enough for me.
Podkolzin Is Becoming a Dominant Play Driver
You heard it here first folks, Vasili Podkolzin is going to become a menacing two-way force at the NHL level similar to peak Marian Hossa. Thanks to Chris Faber’s tireless work at Canucks Army, we have Corsi-for (CF%) statistics for his play so far this season. Those statistics are revealing a very positive trend in his development. In every game he’s played so far, he’s posted extremely high CF% numbers and has shown off his physical and powerful two-way game in minimal minutes.
In the most recent game tracked by Chris, Podkolzin finished with an insane 84.6 CF% in just under 10 minutes of ice time. In his previous games, he was in the high 70s, so it seems to be a trend early on this season, which is very encouraging.
Podkolzin isn’t playing a lot, which is on par with what the KHL does to their young forwards. The positive side of this is the fact that he already has one goal and two points in five games and has been an overwhelmingly positive play driver in every game. In the NHL that would earn him increased minutes, not a fourth-line role with less than 10 minutes per game.
If Podkolzin can become that type of player for the Canucks, I can guarantee you that head coach Travis Green would play him with Bo Horvat each and every game in a matchup role. High CF% means increased puck possession and less possession time for the opposition’s best players. What NHL coach wouldn’t want that?
Fans won’t have to wait much longer to see Podkolzin in Canucks’ colours. The KHL regular season ends in February, and the latest he could be playing is April, so basically he could join the Canucks sometime in 2021. That should be an exciting addition, especially if they are in a playoff position. In the end, it would be like adding a top-six forward for free.
More Canucks Overseas Prospects Will Play Eventually
The Canucks have a few other prospects playing overseas which are detailed in the table below. I will be tracking all of them throughout the season as they navigate through this unprecedented time of hockey. Most of them haven’t started playing in the regular season yet, so there’s not much news right now. Once they get going, there will be plenty to talk about. So keep it locked to The Hockey Writers as I keep you up to date with all things Canucks prospects![table id=364 /]
Matthew Zator is the assistant managing editor at THW and a writer who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.