What better way to start an argument … for fun … but I’m going to strongly suggest that as it stands at the moment, the Vancouver Canucks Russian contingent presently ranks 1) Ilya Mikheyev, 2) Vasily Podkolzin, and 3) Andrey Kuzmenko in terms of on-ice value. This flight of fancy has nothing to do with cap hits or quadratic equations.
Base this list on skill, experience, and versatility. Hockey sense also goes in favour of Mikeyev, while potential ‘upside’ definitely remains an argument into the future, particularly with one of the fellas being a bit of a mystery.
Based on age alone, Podkolzin has the greatest upside as he’s five years younger than “Kooz” and six years younger than Mikheyev. Then again, the latter could take off like a rocket with the change of scenery out of Toronto.
Some will favour “Pods” simply because he’s a very likeable incumbent and that’s understandable. As far as we know he has the scariest shot of the three.
Mikheyev presently takes the cake however with his ability to play a 200-foot game at even strength and to take part in both the penalty kill and the power play. Podkolzin is still figuring things out while Kuzmenko will first have to take the smaller NHL ice surface into consideration.
Simply put, Mikheyev has .49 points-per-game in his NHL career, Pods has .33, while Kuzmenko has registered .63 PPG in 315 Kontintental Hockey League games. But that’s the KHL in Russia where Kooz oddly enough has exactly 200 career regular season points.
Mikheyev should be here awhile, he just signed for four years and $4.75-million per season. Kuzmenko nabbed a one-year, entry-level deal as a newbie while Podkolzin has two seasons remaining on his.
It may seem like I’m basing this chatter on a mountain of obvious, but development can be hard to put a finger on until it turns into reality. Podkolzin might take a leap and top this list sooner than later. A good problem to have if you’re the Vancouver Canucks.
What’s exciting for fans is that we can even have this discussion. There’s a bit of a thrilling ‘unknown’ in the case of all three players.