The frontrunners for the Calder Trophy this season seem pretty clear.
Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond have been outstanding as rookies for the Detroit Red Wings, while Trevor Zegras has both style and substance for the Anaheim Ducks, wowing the hockey world with his stunning over-the-net assist while also sitting in second in rookie scoring with 22 points in 28 games.
There are other potential Calder candidates, such as goaltender Jeremy Swayman with the Boston Bruins, Dawson Mercer with the New Jersey Devils, and Seth Jarvis with the Carolina Hurricanes, among others. They’re all exciting players in their own right and could make things interesting by the end of the season.
Not mentioned among those players is the Canucks’ top rookie, Vasily Podkolzin. The young winger has had a solid start to the season, with 6 goals and 8 points in 28 games, on-pace for 18 goals. That’s a fine debut, even if it’s not quite Calder Trophy level.
But Podkolzin has been impactful in other ways, particularly in his two-way game. Among Canucks regulars, Podkolzin has been on the ice for the lowest rate of shots against at 5-on-5 and the second-lowest rate of goals against behind only Nils Höglander. The Canucks have out-scored their opponents 15-to-7 with Podkolzin on the ice at 5-on-5.
Already used on the power play under previous head coach Travis Green, Podkolzin has started contributing on the penalty kill as well under Bruce Boudreau, as he’s truly become a player the Canucks can trust in any situation.
You better not tell SKA-1946, Podkolzin’s former MHL team, that he’s not a Calder candidate this season, however. Podkolzin’s junior team in Russia may well be Podkolzin’s biggest fans judging from the love they regularly pour on him from their Twitter account.
After Podkolzin scored his sixth goal of the season on Tuesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, SKA-1946 was quick to jump in with a Spongebob meme to celebrate the moment.
As dedicated Podkolzin fans, SKA-1946 were not always the biggest fans of Travis Green, who limited his ice time early in the season. They should perhaps speak to their own KHL team about that one, but that’s none of my business.
Podkolzin only played 17 games for SKA-1946, tallying 15 points. He spent a lot more time with their parent club, SKA St. Petersburg, and their VHL team, SKA-Neva. That limited time with SKA-1946 didn’t put a damper on their love for Podkolzin it seems.
In the summer, they went as far as suggesting Podkolzin is the answer to the Canucks’ 50-year Stanley Cup drought with a Yugioh reverse card meme.
When Podkolzin scored his first goal on October 15, SKA-1946 were there, declaring his arrival and that Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin would soon be running scared.
When he scored his second goal on November 2, they were right on top of it with a slightly misused “Is this a pigeon?” meme to call Podkolzin a genius.
Another Podkolzin goal on November 7 meant another Podkolzin meme from SKA-1946.
Their unwavering support of their former player is adorable and delightful.
It’s also, perhaps, delusional. But that’s okay.
I hope they never stop making Podkolzin memes. To be honest, they’re quite impressive when you consider how different Russian and English are as languages. It’s particularly difficult to translate humour, so kudos to SKA-1946’s social media manager.