Kris Baker is once again counting down his list of top prospects available in the NHL Draft for Sabres.com. The first round of the 2017 NHL Draft will take place on June 23 in Chicago.
Position: Right Wing
Team: Dynamo (KHL)
Selected first overall by the Kootenay ICE in the CHL Import Draft, Kostin is the total package in terms of a fierce, edgy competitor with great size and a lethal offensive game. The big-time Russian talent entered the season as a consensus Top 5 selection, but his season was met with challenges that may see his stock take a hit come June.
Kostin opted to remain home in Russia, where he earned a spot with Moscow Dynamo of the KHL club. Unfortunately, he struggled to find consistency in the early goings and eventually saw his season cut short in January due to season-ending shoulder surgery.
Despite the limited viewings, Kostin offered plenty of encouraging signs with his blend of speed, power and finesse to illustrate what the future may hold for this impressive talent.
Kostin is a great skater with an explosive first step. He's tough to knock off the puck, and loves to take it hard to the net. He can exploit defenders by going around them or through them thanks to his quick feet and equally fast set of hands.
He has a pro-caliber shot, but most scouts would prefer Kostin shoot more as his offensive game remains rather unselfish.
Like many young offensive stars, Kostin hasn't had to focus much on the details when he doesn't have the puck. He's not ignorant to playing defense by any means, but you can see his own-zone intensity come and go, and that will need to improve if Kostin is to achieve his full NHL potential as a big-minute weapon.
Kostin has a KHL contract through the 2018-19 season, but has made overtures about coming to North America immediately with a desire to see his CHL rights moved to more competitive club.
Regardless of how that shakes out, it seems that any NHL team selecting him may not have to wait very long to capitalize on his dynamic skill set.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker's website, SabresProspects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@SabresProspects).
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