The NHL Draft Combine is a time for prospects to demonstrate their physical abilities, skating skills, and work ethic. Often, teams who are interested in particular prospects set up interviews with them in order to get a better sense of who they are as people, not just as players.
One particularly interesting story about the Capitals’ approach to those combine interviews was shared by a highly-ranked international prospect, Vasili Podkolzin. Through a translator, Podkolzin told NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor Adam Kimelman that in their interview, “Washington asked if I know how to sing.”
Podkolzin’s response was “if they draft me I’ll sing to them.”
— Adam Kimelman (@NHLAdamK) May 28, 2019
Likely, the interviewer was more interested in how Podkolzin responded to the question than in what his actual answer would be, in order to get a sense of his creativity, flexibility, and personality. Or perhaps the Capitals’ long-term plan for success moving forwards involves more musical numbers (which we here at RMNB endorse whole-heartedly).
Podkolzin is a fast-skating right winger who wears number 19 and was compared by Craig Button to Pavel Datsyuk when Button ranked him 5th in overall prospects in August 2018. In a recent NHL Tonight rating of the top 31 draft prospects, Podkolzin was ranked sixth.
The 17-year-old is already playing professionally in the KHL with SKA St. Petersberg and has captained the Russian junior team to two international medals, including the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, where he scored a hat trick in the bronze medal match.
The Capitals have the 25th pick in the first round for 2019, so Podkolzin would have quite a ways to fall from fifth or sixth to end up in DC. One factor that might cause other clubs to hesitate is his current KHL contract. The earliest Podkolzin would be able to leave SKA St. Petersberg and join the organization that drafted him would be the 2021-22 season.
The Capitals have a strong track record with drafting international players even if they have pre-existing commitments to their current clubs. The Caps are willing to wait for the right players, which they did with Evgeny Kuznetsov, who was drafted 26th overall in 2010 but stayed with Traktor Chelyabinsk until 2014.
Round One of the NHL Draft will be held June 21 in Vancouver.
S/T to @dragonscrawl
Headline photo: NHL
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