Well, well… the St. Louis Blues will go into the 2019-20 NHL season as NHL Champs.
Jason Millen, congrats to you sir. Jason has been the Blues blogger since 2016.
Some of you might be pissed off with a Blues win, but they were a hell of a story and now a team that the Hawks can use as a measuring stick in the Central.
The Central Division – which was a juggernaut for years – takes over as top dog again in 2019 with the Blues winning the cup. And there is no sign of slowing down; the Blues are going to be good for years, Winnipeg with some tweaks will be contenders again, Nashville should be fine (although need to figure it out), Colorado is cruising and will get an elite player at #4, Dallas is humming and Chicago should be better next year. Oh… then there is poor Minnesota who is like an old, confused organization who will be in it tough to find their way back into the playoffs.
Anyway, congrats to the St. Louis Blues to their 1st Stanley Cup ever!
Now, on to our 2nd last draft preview, Mr. Vasili Podkolzin.
I really should have started with the 6'1 / 196 lbs Russian winger because his stock has really dropped.
When the Hawks jumped to 3rd overall, Podkolzin was right there in the 3rd spot in the rankings. From then, there has been ups-and-downs in his stock due to his play in the spring, as well as his tricky contract situation.
Let's have a look at some highlights, chatter about Podkolzin as well as take a look at his stats page:
Vasili Podkolzin highlights
(Courtesy: Hockey Prospects Centre)
Here is a snapshot of Podkolzin
Podkolzin doesn't really speak English, so to get a good idea of who he is off the ice, here's Sam Constantino to speak about his play and his character:
(Courtesy: NHL National Hockey League)
Man, you gotta love that confidence. He even sounds like he errs on the side of cockiness and I like it.
Here are the rankings from the Central Scouting, Elite Prospects and Draftsite.com:
* 2nd by NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters)
* 3rd by EliteProspects.com
* 6th by DraftSite.com
However, that doesn't paint the picture and trends we're hearing as of June 13th. Here's a look at a few others:
Corey Proman of The Athletic now has Podkolzin at #14 and says this:
"This is probably toward the lowest range of where I think Podkolzin gets, I could see him anywhere from No. 6 to 14, but I don't think Arizona would pass up a chance to add a dynamic player like him."
I think if Podkolzin falls this low that some teams might be regretting it.
Contract issues aside (Podkolzin will be in Russia for at least the next 2 years), there is no doubt that he has some skill. He's a bull and he's a potentially underrated leader.
When I first started looking into Podkolzin, he reminded me of a combination of Marian Hossa and Vlad Tarasenko.
Still, some are wary of drafting his; Scott Wheeler from The Athletic thinks teams should stay away from the Russian winger:
"Podkolzin, as I've written since my preliminary ranking last fall, is a player who catches your eye because he appears heavily involved in games physically and heavily involved in the offence through the way he attacks with the puck, but doesn't often enough make plays that result in positive outcomes. There's a difference between catching your eye and winning hockey games. And instincts can only take you so far. I'm all for players who attempt to make plays but there's a level of awareness required to become a great player at the next level and I fear that Podkolzin may be limited to an energizing third-line role without a steep development of that skill in the next few seasons. I'm OK with him in the 13-20 range but I'm pretty confident each of my top-12 prospects are going to be higher-end players than Podkolzin."
In the end, I don't see Chicago taking him, however, I still think he's going to be a heck of player when he eventually gets to the NHL. He's an interesting one to watch on June 21st.
Lastly, let's see what Wiz thinks:
The Blackhawks select Vasili Pokolzon if... they feel he is simply the first Russian physical player who can be a Brad Marchand once he learns English. (Bill Placzek, DraftSite.com)
Is there any way you can see Chicago calling out Vasili Podkolzin's name 3rd overall?