2019-20 Team: Shawinigan Cataractes
Date of Birth: March 13th, 2002
Place of Birth: Zelenograd, RUS
Ht: 5’ 10” Wt: 180 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings: 48th (among NA Skaters)
- Future Considerations March Rankings: 36th
- ISS March Rankings: 24th
- Larry Fisher’s April Rankings: 31st
- Cam Robinson’s April Rankings: 39th
The ninth-overall pick from the 2019 CHL Import Draft, Ponomaryov has been nothing but outstanding in his transition to North American ice. After registering 29 points in 37 games in Russia’s junior league (MHL) in 2018-19, he immediately followed that up with a strong rookie campaign in the Quebec Major Junior League. The 18-year-old centre jumped out to an early point-per-game pace, registering 14 goals and 16 assists in 30 games, finishing with 49 points in 57 games.
Related: THW’s 2020 Draft Guide
Ponomaryov possesses a very heavy shot and he is incredibly deceptive with and without the puck. He has great speed to push defenders back as well as being elusive in high traffic areas. He uses his quick hands to fool defenders as he handles the puck with ease. Even when fellow top prospect Mavrik Bourque went down with a leg injury, Ponomaryov rose to the occasion in his spot.
Ponomaryov shows no fear on the ice. He plays with a high level of intensity and is engaged in every shift and puck battle. His drive and attitude are two of his many assets along with his high-end scoring abilities.
While he does have great offensive instincts, his defensive game will enable him to become a strong and capable two-way centre in the NHL. On the other side of the puck, Ponomaryov is incredibly patient with his vision and awareness, waiting for the right opportunity to attack the opposing player. His speed allows him to close gaps and keep the opposition to the outside and he has a great reach to poke-check the puck. While scouts like players with an offensive game, Ponomaryov displays both which will make him valuable.
Related THW Draft Profiles
Vasili Ponomaryov- NHL Draft Projection
Scouts and draft rankings are split with Ponomaryov. Some have him as a late first-round pick others rank him as an early to mid-second-round pick. While he has the skillset, his offensive production is not as high as other prospects, which could be why he becomes a second-round pick. His ability to play a strong two-way game is what makes him enticing.
“Ponomaryov is a strong stickhandler with multiple fakes and spin moves that he times with precision, both in open ice and tight spaces. He’s a possession driver with very good speed and excellent balance, and much like Amirov, he can create chances using crisp cross-ice passes — forehand or backhand — while operating off the cycle. An under-appreciated aspect of Ponomaryov’s game is his dedication to backchecking and defensive-zone positioning, and you rarely see him allow the low slot to be vacated. He is used as on the lead power-play unit and centers the first group on the penalty kill… There’s also a fearlessness in his game, as Ponomaryov is not only willing to battle and stand up to bigger opponents, but also bounce right back up when he’s hammered into the boards.”- Steve Kourianos, The Draft Analyst
“The right winger is a skilled offensive attacker who displays great shiftiness, puck-handling abilities and competitiveness every shift. If his decision-making with the puck needs to be polished, his creativity and ability to spark things offensively are certainly not up to debate. He’s able to leave his mark on every game and he’ll try to continue on this path this Thursday.”- Andy Lehoux, Future Considerations
“The native of Zelenograd, Russia, is truly an offensive threat every time he steps on the ice. The forward has good acceleration and deceptive speed, he possesses a very accurate and heavy shot and has developed a solid two-way game under new Shawinigan Head Coach Gordie Dwyer.”- Craig Eagles, QMJHL.ca
- Heavy Shot
- Defensive Awareness
- Offensive Instincts
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
Ponomaryov has the skillset and vision to be an excellent player in the NHL. He can be trusted on the power play, penalty kill and in late-game situations. His ability to compete every shift and be aggressive on the fore-check will make him successful as a second or third-line centre.
Risk- Reward Analysis
Risk- 3/5, Reward 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense- 7.5/10, Defense 8/10
Ponomaryov has had success at both the U17 and U18 levels for Russia. He won gold at the World Hockey Challenge, while being named to the tournament All-Star Team. He also won a gold medal at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, being a key contributing factor in the gold medal game.