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Vasily Ponomarev taking part in a game for AHL Chicago Wolves.
Photo credit: NHL

Key Part of the Jake Guentzel Deal Turning Heads at AHL Level

Published March 20, 2024 at 9:53 PM
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Marvin Azrak
March 20, 2024  (9:53 PM)
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Vasily Ponomarev was pretty adamant about it. When asked about his journey to in hockey he said something else.


Next time, ask me about my number 11!

He said , referring to the jersey he recently picked up after joining the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.


According to Vasily, as reported by Seth Rorabaugh of ‘Trib Live' it all goes back to the earliest days of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1967. He explained how he played for the Chicago Wolves for three years alongside a guy named Gene Ubriaco, who happened to play in that first Penguins season. They're tight buddies now and always chatting on the phone.

When Vasily made the move from Chicago, Gene texted him, insisting he take number 11.

I wore number 11 in 1967,

he said. And wouldn't you know it, that's the number Vasily scored his first goal with for the Penguins during their recent win against the Cleveland Monsters.

The journey to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton wasn't exactly straightforward for Vasily.
Ponomarev's was on the road with the Chicago Wolves, sleeping, when suddenly his teammate and roomie Max Comtois shook him awake with some major news. Turns out, rumors were buzzing on Instagram about a trade, and it looked like Ponomarev was involved. Next thing he knows, he's scrolling through his phone to see missed calls from the Carolina GM Don Waddel followed by Kyle Dubas from the Penguins.

Ponomarev got traded along with a bunch of other players and draft picks in exchange for star winger Jake Guentzel.



Despite his play taking a bit of a dip this season, Ponomarev's still feeling confident about his NHL potential. He's even got some tricks up his sleeve, considering himself a creative player who's ready to make plays happen on the ice.

Now, in the midst of his fifth full season in North America, Ponomarev's eyeing some improvements—both offensively and defensively. Whether he slots in as a center or a winger in the NHL, it all depends on what he brings to the table when he gets his shot.

And speaking of shots, Ponomarev may have missed Dubas' first call, but they eventually linked up. While it was mostly a surface-level chat, Dubas left Ponomarev with a
Message that stuck

If I'm gonna work," Ponomarev said. "I will get a chance."
That's one he will be ready to seize.

He's proven himself before at the NHL level. On January 5th, 2024, the Washington Capitals' home ice at Capital One Arena. Vasily scored on his very first shot in the big leagues. He also added an assist to his debut performance, helping his team secure a solid 6-2 victory over the Capitals.

Listening to Vasily talk about his journey from Russia to professional hockey is like hearing a plot from a movie. He's faced challenges, made tough decisions, but he's always had his eye on the NHL prize. It's pretty inspiring stuff.

Since being selected as a second-round pick, 153rd overall, by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2020 draft, Vasily Ponomarev has been making his mark in the AHL. With an impressive tally of 36 goals and 86 points in just 119 AHL games, he's proving himself as a formidable force on the ice, steadily progressing towards his NHL aspirations.

And despite a bit of a dry spell on the ice, Vasily's confidence hasn't wavered. He's a playmaker, but he's also humble enough to know when he needs to step up his game. The Penguins management sees his potential, and don't be surprised if we see him as a full time NHL player soon.
So, next time you see Vasily Ponomarev, ask him about number 11. But be prepared for a good story!

As read on: Trib Live- New Penguins forward prospect Vasily Ponomarev is sharp on and off the ice
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March 20   |   112 answers
Key Part of the Jake Guentzel Deal Turning Heads at AHL Level

Which aspect of Vasily Ponomarev's journey resonated with you the most?

His resilience in facing challenges6860.7 %
His first NHL goal2724.1 %
Connection to 11.1715.2 %
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