Carolina’s AHL affiliate just got another player to bolster their ranks. Returning from his time in Russia, 2020 2nd round selection Vasily Ponomarev is going to be joining the Chicago Wolves as the team continues to load up in an attempt to secure the Calder Cup down in the AHL. A genuine two-way center, he’s returning to North American ice to start his professional career in the continent.
A product of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League or QMJHL, Ponomarev is a hounding presence on the ice with enough energy to play for 180 minutes a night. He’s great defensively and very capable in the offensive zone. Now, this doesn’t mean he’s going to be a star right away in Chicago. However, if they can help his development, he’s got a genuine chance of becoming an NHL regular.
"“The motor on this kid is unrelenting. He backtracks well through the neutral zone, consistently applies back-pressure, and is dogged in 50-50 puck battles. He’s a legitimate two-way center, the type that makes his presence felt at every corner of the ice” – Eliteprospects"
At 5’10, 180lbs, Ponomarev isn’t the biggest of people and isn’t likely to become the friendly giant on a Calder Cup winner like others have been. He’s being added to provide defensive stability, give the Wolves a little more depth (as if they need it) and start his development on North American ice so that he can transition to the US full time for the 2022-23 season, and be here for the first year of his ELC.
Ponomarev signed his contract a while ago, on October 13th, 2020 to be exact, but his contract hasn’t moved yet. It’s a complex way of saying that he’s not played enough games to trigger his contract to start ticking, but he’s about to reach that age so now he’s likely to stay within the organization in North America so that he can be watched by management and developed to what they drafted him to be.
For Carolina, they get their highly-rated centerman to come back to North America after departing the Shawinigan Cataractes a year ago. Chicago gets another young talent to add to the roster and potentially start to mold into the shape of a star player, and Ponomarev gets to play in the feeder league to the best league in the world and try to win a trophy while becoming a better player. This is really good for all involved.