The New York Rangers finally have a first round pick, and with it, will select a player that will be integral to the future of the team. Let’s look at one potential target: Klim Kostin.
Sometimes, skilled prospects drop in the draft inexplicably. Occasionally, it is because they’re viewed as weak defensively. Sometimes, its attitude issues. Other times, it’s the dreaded “Russian factor”. Whether there is basis to these reasons or not, the New York Rangers have taken advantage of droppers in the past and, most of the time, wildly succeeded.
The late Alexei Cherepanov was an example of a top talent falling into the Rangers lap. Anthony Duclair, Pavel Buchnevich, and many more can be included in this as well. This year’s iteration of the skilled forward likely to fall: Dynamo Moscow’s Klim Kostin.
On paper, it looks like your typical situation: Russian forward playing in the KHL may be passed up by some teams. This story has been seen time and time again and only makes general managers and scouts look silly when already good teams later swipe them up in the draft.
Who Is Klim Kostin?
Kostin is a big power forward, already standing at 6’3 and close to 200 lbs. He is a goal scorer in every sense of the word, and can score in a variety of ways. Whether its a quick shot, slick move, or bullish drive to the net, Kostin is a versatile scorer with an array of talents in his pocket. Effort is not i question either; he is often the hardest working forward on his line.
Though he may have some deficiencies defensively, it is important to keep in mind that “defensive weakness” is not a slight on draft eligible prospects; no 17 year old’s game is refined to that quality. One must remember to draft based on talent and skill, and Kostin possesses that in spades.
Kostin’s style of play is one that translates very well to North America. Much like Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich, Kostin is not afraid to muck it up with the opposition. He will enter the dirty areas of the ice, battle for pucks and take hard hits to make plays. Converting to smaller ice should be seamless for a player like Kostin.
An issue that came up for him this year was injuries. Last season, Kostin suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery, and as a result, played only 8 KHL games. This may be a blessing in disguise for the Rangers, as teams may be wary to draft him because of this. As a result, the Rangers can get a top ten talent at 21 if he happens to fall.
In Kostin’s eight KHL games, he did not score any points, However, he did post up one shootout goal:
Another thing to keep in mind with young European players: you can’t always judge their talent level based on their point totals. KHL coaches tend to misuse young players, even going as far as dressing them and not using them at all. Pavel Buchnevich encountered this first hand with SKA St. Petersburg, often playing multiple consecutive games taking only a couple of shifts.
While the Rangers true target should be a defenseman, if Kostin is available at the 21 spot, it would be hard to pass up on a talent like him. As a result, Rangers can be on the receiving end of a draft day steal late in the first round.
You can check out the video below, courtesy of the YouTube channel NHL Prospects, for highlights of Klim Kostin’s time in Russia’s junior league, the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, and more.