OHL

Sliding Down the Draft Board: Nikita Korostelev

Nikita Korostelev #35 of the Sarnia Sting lays a hip check on Graham Knott #13 of the Niagara IceDogs at the Meridian Center on November 8, 2014 in St. Catharines, Ontario.
(November 7, 2014 – Source: Rick Denham/Getty Images North America)

A couple of months ago, I wrote an article about Mathew Barzal falling on the draft board. I liked the idea and always intended to make another piece on someone else rising or dropping in stock. One forward who has been falling has been winger Nikita Korostelev.

At the start of the season, Nikita Korostelev was being ranked around the #24 to #26 mark by scouting services like ISSHockey, Hockey Prospect, Central Scouting Services, etc. He was viewed as a player who could provide a strong offensive boost to a team.

In the first month of the season, Korostelev came out with a bang scoring 17 points, including 8 goals. It seemed like he was one of the more promising forwards coming out of the OHL. During the following month, Korostelev improved his case further by adding 6 more goals and 5 more assists.

Korostelev currently leads the Sarnia Sting in points and goals, which is what Korostelev does best. He is a pure offensive player. His best quality is his shot, which he uses to his advantage every game. He has a fairly big frame for a forward at 6’1″, and he does throw some big hits at times.

A big flaw of Korostelev however, is his defensive game. He is often found out of the play and trying to catch up. This, along with his injury that he acquired in January, has led to his drop on the NHL Draft board.

Korostelev injured his shoulder at the start of the new year in January and his not played since, which plays a big role in his fall.

While Korostelev is out, other players are stepping up their game and taking over the spotlight that he had once filled. Prospects that come to mind are Travis Konecny, Timo Meier, Jansen Harkins, and Jeremy Bracco.

Looking at Konecny, he has put up 7 goals and 5 assists in his past 9 games, which has been the time that Korostelev has been out for. That is also discounting two games that the 67’s captain missed due to the BMO Top Prospects Game that Konecny dominated in.

Ottawa 67’s forward Travis Konecny of Clachan captained Canada to gold medals at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup. (JAMES EMERY/Hockey Canada Images)

In case you forgot, Konecny was on the top line with Connor McDavid and Timo Meier, and he did not disappoint. Konecny played a key role in the Team Orr 6-0 win. He finished the game with 2 goals and an assist, along with many other noteworthy plays to add to his resume.

Nikita Korostelev can easily make his way back to where he once was, because the fall hasn’t been a mighty one. It is unfortunate that he has missed an entire month from an injury, but if he can return at full health soon, and to the game that he brought the Sting in November and December, Korostelev should have no problem with winning over the scouts in order to improve his tarnished draft stock.

A little help from his fellow draft eligible players wouldn’t hurt either. Due to the time he has been out, several prospects have taken the opportunity to jump over Korostelev. They were on a hot streak to get over him, but the hot streak of guys like a Konecny, or a Meier don’t seem to be cooling down anytime soon. That would not help Korostelev at all.

Come June I think Nikita Korostelev ends up in the very late first round, or very early second round boat. His injury was a long one, at ill-timed as well. Once he is drafted, I’m sure he will make an impact with the team that chooses him.