In the days leading to the 2017 NHL Draft presented by adidas at United Center in Chicago on June 23-24, NHL.com will break down the top prospects by position. Today: The top left wings available.
There's plenty of speed and power among the top left wings eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft.
At the top of the list is Klim Kostin (6-foot-2, 207 pounds) of Dynamo Moscow in Russia, despite the fact he missed most of the season because of shoulder surgery in January. He played with the injury for Russia in the Canadian Hockey League Canada Russia Series in November and had two points (one goal, one assist) in five games. Kostin, who can play center or wing, is No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters.
There were 17 Russia-born players selected for the second straight year in the 2016 draft, and that trend should continue this season with at least nine Russia-born players projected to be first- or second-round selections, according to NHL Central Scouting.
Here are NHL.com's top 10 left wings eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft:
Kostin has a good combination of size, mobility and puckhandling skills, is effective in high-traffic areas and hard to knock off the puck. He had seven points (four goals, three assists) in five games and was captain for bronze medal-winning Russia at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in August. He was selected No. 1 by Kootenay of the Western Hockey League in the 2016 CHL import draft.
Vesalainen (6-4, 209) is a power forward with highly regarded offensive skills who can play left or right wing and is No. 7 in Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters. He split the season between Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League and HFK in Liiga, the top league in his native Finland, and had a combined seven points (two goals, five assists) in 35 games. He led all scorers at the 2017 IIHF World Under-18 Championship with 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in seven games for silver medal-winning Finland. He was named the best forward and most valuable player at the tournament.
Robertson (6-2, 195) is No. 14 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters. He had 81 points (42 goals, 39 assists) in 68 games, and showcased great hockey sense, a strong feel for the game and is an excellent finisher around the net.
Comtois (6-2, 206) finished his season strong, with 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) in his final 20 regular-season games, and is No. 30 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters. For the season he had 51 points (22 goals, 29 assists) in 64 games. He also played center this season and won 52.4 percent of his faceoffs (305 of 582).
Ratcliffe (6-6, 200) plays a similar style to New York Rangers forward Rick Nash. No. 15 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, Ratcliffe has shown good hockey sense and a soft touch around the net. He can make plays on the rush while using his size, strength, and reach to be a threat on the cycle. He had 54 points (28 goals, 26 assists) in 67 games.
The University of North Dakota recruit was No. 24 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters. Mismash (6-0, 180) led USA Hockey's National Team Development Program under-18 team with 61 points (26 goals, 35 assists) in 65 games, and had eight points (three goals, five assists) in seven games to help the United States win the gold medal at the World U-18.
The right-handed shot is No. 28 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters. He started his second WHL season with Moose Jaw and was traded to Prince George on Jan. 5. He had 69 points (29 goals, 40 assists) in 71 games. Popugaev (6-5, 218) has a combination of size and skill, and is capable of using his reach very well.
Formenton (6-1, 165) finished 10th among Ontario Hockey League rookies with 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists) in 65 games. A strong 200-foot player with good size and excellent skating ability, Formenton can generate scoring opportunities off the rush or below the dots in the offensive zone. He's No. 29 in Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters.
The youngest brother of New York Islanders forward Ryan Strome and Arizona Coyotes forward Dylan Strome, Matthew also happens to be the biggest and strongest. Strome (6-3, 206) is good at protecting and cycling the puck, and led Hamilton with 62 points (34 goals, 28 assists) and 10 power-play goals in 66 games. He's No. 33 in Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters.
Gadjovich (6-1, 198) had 74 points (46 goals, 28 assists) in 60 games. He likes to set up in front of the net to provide screens, battles hard and is tough along the wall. He's No. 39 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters.