Canucks sign Koltsov

By Brendan Macgranachan

With the Vancouver Canucks letting defenseman Murray Baron walk and not signing a defenseman off the free agent market to take his place, President and Genreal Manager Brain Burke inked 2001’s first pick Kirill Koltsov. Under club policy, the terms of the deal were not disclosed. The 20-year-old native of Cheljabinsk, Russia, played in 45 games with Avangard Omsk in 2002-03, where he netted four goals to go with 12 points and 54 PIMs.

Koltsov was a projected late first-rounder in a deep 2001 Entry Draft. Attitude and disipline probelms had him slipping down the rankings fast. In October 2001, Koltsov, along with Tampa Bay’s Alexander Svitov and Anaheim’s Stanislav Chistov were escorted out of their team hotel and to a military base where they tired to force them play hockey for their team. The plan failed but Koltsov, along with Chistov and Svitov, lost lots of playing time and were mentally drained in the ordeal. Koltsov was later not invited to the U20 Four Nations Cup and a feud with the U20 coach Vladimir Plyuschev had NHL GM’s wondering about his attidude, not his skill. Come the second round, Brain Burke made Kirill Koltsov their first pick, 49th overall.

Kirill has spent his whole career playing with Avangard Omsk in the Russian Super League with his best season coming this year (4-8-12) and has played with many national teams including the World Juniors and the U18 Four Nations Cup. Koltsov might bounce back and forth between Vancouver and Manitoba this season but he wouldn’t have a full time job in Vancouver until 2004-05.