The Avalanche should have two first round picks in the upcoming 2019 NHL entry draft and could strongly consider an impressive duo of Russian forwards with those selections. Over the past couple of years the Avalanche started to cultivate a Russian pipeline and found talent out of the Russian junior system in Nikolai Kovalenko, Danila Zhuravlyov and Igor Shvyrev with their mid-round picks. Now might be the right time to aim for a higher-end talent and make a substantial investment with a higher pick and there are two excellent players worthy of consideration.
Vasili Podkolzin is a six-foot tall left shot right wing and complete package player who possesses every attribute that will serve him well in the NHL. He plays with the motor and fierce determination of a power forward but couples that with smart defensive play and a willingness to do the dirty work.
As one of the younger players in this draft class with a June 2001 birthday, Podkolzin began playing in the MHL (Russian juniors) just this season. Following a good start in his debut with SKA-1946 in the the KHL SKA’s system to the tune of seven points including five goals in ten games Podkolzin has moved around to various teams. After participating in a Under-18 event with the Russian team he returned to begin playing in the for SKA-Neva in the VHL (Russian AHL) and in six games scored one goal in a very low scoring league. Then Podkolzin joined the all-star cast of players for the U20 Four Nations event where he scored a goal as seen below and upon his return was given his KHL debut with SKA. That is quite a bit of change in just three months for the young phenom and he has handled it well.
Podkolzin first made a name for himself in international play with four points at the U-18 championships in the spring. Then Podkolzin arrived with an electrifying record breaking 11 point performance at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August including an astonishing eight goals in five games. He carried and captained a very talented team to a bronze medal in all aspects of the game from shooting plus playmaking to defense and two late game individual heroic efforts in the semi-finals and bronze medal game. He’s a special player.
For his efforts and talents Podkolzin is ranked very high from many outlets for the 2019 draft at this juncture including landing at the four position on Bob McKenzie’s initial insiders list at TSN. The Hlinka certainly elevated his profile but certain outlets like HockeyProspect.com had him ranked top ten heading into the summer. Podkolzin has progressed through many different levels of hockey in a short time so it’s tough to imagine he was playing in a U17 league just last year and because of that his game is in a bit of a rawer state than some of his draft eligible peers as he does not have a lot of high level or consistent experience. Still, he plays a smart tenacious brand of hockey and impacts the game in different ways on every shift in addition to his highlight reel type goals.
Goal from Vasili Podkolzin (#25), one of the top prospects for the #2019NHLDraft. Notice how he instructs the defenseman before the draw. You don't see 17-year-olds doing that often at the #U20 level. #FourNations pic.twitter.com/xRuTMiRcwt
— Jokke Nevalainen (@JokkeNevalainen) November 9, 2018
Here is a short compilation of some of Podkolzin’s (#19 in white) shifts in a VHL game that shows the tenacity and work ethic he plays with.
Oct 31, 2018 VHL: Vasya Podkolzin vs Izhstal pic.twitter.com/BDTR9kDAOz
— HockeyRU20 (@HockeyRU20) October 31, 2018
Pavel Dorofeyev hasn’t recieved nearly the attention he should despite building on his resume for several years now. He is a left shot wing standing at six-foot with a high level of skill and good defensive play. Dorofeyev has played in the MHL for two seasons now putting up 39 points including 19 goals in 48 games with Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk last year and 22 points including 12 goals in 14 games this season thus far. This is the same team and system both Igor Shvyrev and Vladislav Kamenev hail from so the Avalanche could have their eye on Dorofeyev. As an October 2000 born player he was too old to participate in this year’s Ivan Hlinka tournament but was part of the U18 team for Russia in the spring scoring four points in five games. Dorofeyev also recieved a recent recall for his KHL debut and played in nine contests for Metallurg Magnitogorsk before also participating in the U20 Four Nations and scoring a goal as seen below for team Russia.
NHL’s Central Scouting still has Dorofeyev rated as a B player (second to third round grade) but some recent draft outlets have come around to awareness on him. As per usual HockeyProspect.com was the first to rank him inside the first round at 22 and Future Considerations has followed suit with a ranking at 40. A lack of major international exposure might hurt Dorofeyev but his production in the MHL should at least turn some heads. Dorofeyev is a highly intelligent player who has great speed, playmaking ability and shot to go along with a smooth and composed game.
A prospect less talked about is Russian forward Pavel Dorofeyev. Possesses nice offensive abilities and plays fairly well defensively. Played already 9 games for Metallurg in the #KHL #2019nhldraft pic.twitter.com/8b1HmbOfjY
— Dennis Schellenberg (@ScoutingFactory) November 10, 2018
Here is a recent hat trick for Dorofeyev (#27 in white) upon his return to the MHL in which he’s scored four goals and two assists in his last two games.
Nov 19, 2018 MHL: Pavel Dorofeyev hat-trick vs Altay pic.twitter.com/lhiZTYMLzN
— HockeyRU20 (@HockeyRU20) November 19, 2018
Either one of these intruiging Russian forwards would be a strong option for the Avalanche as both are highly skilled and well-rounded wingers with decent size. Dorofeyev hasn’t reached mainstream acclaim yet but should shake out as a solid option in the second half of the first round. Podkolzin sits on many lists in the top five but probably won’t end up going quite that high. Russians who stay at home to develop are much tougher to handicap where they will land on draft day but Vitaly Kravtsov and Grigori Denisenko both getting selected in the top 15 in the 2018 NHL entry draft could pave the way for another duo of highly talented Russians to find the same fate in Vancouver in 2019. Hopefully the Avalanche take advantage.