Valeri Bragin, Russia’s coach at the world juniors, is as intimidating as they come. But even he couldn’t help smiling when asked about right winger Vasili Podkolzin. “I like him,” Bragin said through a translator. “He’s a hard worker and a great player.”
Podkolzin looks like a top-five NHL draft pick for 2019, but it took some heavy work for him to earn his spot on the eventual WJC bronze medallists in Vancouver. He didn’t get a camp invite at first, but his play at December’s World Jr. A Challenge in Alberta meant he could not be ignored. Podkolzin tied for the tourney lead in scoring with eight points in six games and was named a WJAC all-star while helping Russia to silver. “I got great confidence when I was invited to the under-20 team camp,” Podkolzin said through a translator. “It ...
About the Author
Ryan Kennedy is the associate senior writer and draft/prospect expert at The Hockey News. He has been with the publication since 2005 and in that span, Don Cherry, Lil Jon and The Rock have all called his house. He lives in Toronto with his wife and kids where he listens to loud music and collects NCAA pennants.