The big Russian power winger Klim Kostin, is this draft’s wild card. Limited in his draft season by a season-ending shoulder injury that also tainted much of his play before that, scouts will have to dig into their memory banks to remember the potential that Kostin showed is his impressive draft-minus-one season when they’re decided where to put him on their draft boards.
Without much of a statistical basis to go on, we’re relying on the talent that Kostin showed pre-injury, including strong showings at the 2016 World U18’s and Ivan Hlinka tournaments. Kostin checks in at number 22 on our list.
- Age: 18 – May 5th, 1999
- Birthplace: Penza, RUS
- Frame: 6’2″ / 207 lbs
- Position: Right Wing
- Handedness: Left
- Draft Year Team: Dynamo Moskva
- Accomplishments/Awards: U17 WHC Silver Medal (15/16)
Cohort Based (pGPS)
A big-bodied power winger with strong work ethic…he can dominate for stretches with his cycle game and puck-protection skills…can carry defenders around the ice with his power and balance, or stickhandle around them with a deke or two as he goes to the net…high-energy guy, always keeps his feet moving…possesses a very quick release and has great shot selection…heads-up player who has a great work ethic and leads by example…works his tail off away from the play to get himself in position to make a play…strong intelligence and sees plays developing around him, knowing how to interject himself to provide the best opportunity…is responsible away from the puck and knows where to be to support his defenders…will be a real beast as he adds even more muscle to his impressive frame.
From Corey Pronman of ESPN (Excerpt only – full article behind pay wall)
His skill level at his size is incredible, as he makes tough offensive plays seem easy. Kostin can stick handle in open space, but he also excels as a playmaker and can make the smart play when an option is available. There’s the odd time he can get caught trying to do too much, but often he reads the ice well and can make the right decision. Kostin’s skating isn’t high-end, but he skates well for a player his size, showed significant improvements during the course of the past year and could be average as a pro.
From Roman Solovyev of McKeen’s Hockey (Excerpt only – full article behind pay wall):
This has been a very frustrating year for Kostin. He entered it with big expectations heaped upon him, but a shoulder/collarbone injury absolutely destroyed his chances of contributing meaningfully. He played with the injury from the start of the season and that prevented him from reaching his potential, and has since been ruled out for the year. He has the type of frame that is well suited to the small rinks of the North American game, but needs to show better skating ability as he can look heavy at times.
A season-ending shoulder injury curtailed what was supposed to be a promising draft year for this Russian bulldozer on skates, who was the top pick in last year’s CHL Import Draft. Kostin is a quick power winger who hits hard but is also blessed with soft hands and offensive-zone flair.
Klim Kostin is an incredibly difficult player to get a read on. If one was going by draft season alone, you’d have very little information to with. Back in Russia, he played just eight games in the KHL, nine games in the second tier VHL, and a single game in the junior league MHL. He also came to North America for the CHL Russia Super Series that pits some of the best Russian junior players against pseudo all-star teams from the various CHL leagues. He didn’t have a particularly strong showing there either.
In fact, if it wasn’t for the fact that he dominated the U18 Ivan Hlinka tournament last fall, an observer that only started paying attention to the 2017 after the last draft concluded really wouldn’t know what all the fuss was about when it comes to Klim Kostin.
So why is Kostin still lingering in the first round, and sometimes near the top ten? There are two answers to this question. One is that Kostin 2016-17 struggles are largely forgiven because of a shoulder injury that not only led to season ending surgery in January, but was also present for most of the games he played before that.
The second answer lies in what he accomplished in the past: Kostin had himself quite a draft-minus-one season, especially his international play. When the entire Russian U18 team was suspended from international play in a doping scandal prior to the 2016 U18 tournament in North Dakota, the U17 took their place – with Kostin as its captain. The big Russian scored four points (all assists) in five games in the tournament, as a completely underaged squad held their own.
His prowess as a 16-year old left him as a highly regarded prospect heading into this season – and convinced the WHL’s Kootenay Ice to draft him first overall in the 2016 import draft, though he chose to stay in Russia. Unfortunately, those were expectations that his injury wouldn’t let him fulfill.
On top of the injury, Kostin wasn’t exactly given much of an opportunity to succeed in the KHL, averaging just 4:28 per game for Dynamo Moskva at that level. After eight games without much to show other than a single shot on net and 27 minutes in penalties (25 of which came in a single game for what appeared to me to be a slew foot), Kostin was demoted to the second tier Russian league. There he got a little more playing time, averaging 11:47 per game, but again had little in the way of results. He had one goal on seven shots, as well as four penalty minutes.
With his size and puck protection abilities, Kostin is often considered a power forward. He lumbers a bit as he moves, so his skating will need some work to get to NHL competency, and his shot is quite there yet either, but he puck skills are excellent. Kostin has shown a propensity as a shootout and breakaway specialist, even leaving some KHL goalies twisting in odd directions. In his limited time this season, he demonstrated the ability to read and predict the play well, and get into advantageous positions at both ends of the rink, indicating a decent hockey IQ. In the time prior to his injury, he showed interest in the physical side of the game, making use of his imposing figure.
Kostin is the biggest mystery of this draft’s first round. Given that he wasn’t healthy in the limited time he actually saw this season, how good a handle NHL teams feel they have on this kid will probably depend on how much they managed to see him in his draft-minus-one season. It only takes one team to think that hey can harness the potential that was apparent pre-injury, which is why I think that Kostin will still go in the middle of the first round.