Klim Kostin might not have jumped off the screen at fans when the St. Louis Blues first drafted him. However, he is quickly going up the ranks of players they want to see sooner than later.
When the St. Louis Blues drafted Klim Kostin, it was not front page news. It did not make the headlines and, even in the moment, most fans did not care.
It was not so much anything against Kostin. Most of it had to do with the trade that brought the pick back.
Reaves was the longest tenured Blues player and a personality that will be hard for anyone to match. Despite his physicality and exceptional work rate to become a better player, he was a fourth line player in the end.
That is not to say people cannot be upset that a favorite of theirs is gone. It is simply meant to point out that the upside of what the Blues got is so much higher than what they had in Reaves.
That point is becoming easier to see now that we have seen Kostin on the ice. Before, it was simply trusting scouting reports and national pundits. Now, the Blues have seen what he can do and if he keeps it up, it will be hard to temper excitement.
Depending on your source, Kostin is either tied for the team lead at the 2017 NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City or in the lead. He was initially in the lead with three goals, but according to the Post-Dispatch, one of his goals from the first game was credited to Robert Thomas. According to the official stats site of the tournament, he still has three.
Still, no matter what the stat sheets say, Kostin is showing very well. You do have to take it all with a grain of salt since he’s playing against prospects.
However, you can only play against the guys lined up against you. Besides, if Kostin is showing himself better than his peers then that bodes well for his ability against veteran pros.
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From the fan’s perspective, it is going to be harder to contain the excitement. If we are realistic, Kostin has almost no shot to make the NHL team right out of the gate.
More than likely, he will start in the AHL and maybe get a look sometime later in the season. If he has an amazing camp with the rest of the Blues, maybe he can get a game or two earlier in the season.
For now, Kostin seems to be the Blues version of the Cardinals minor league pitching staff (some of whom have been called up now). He is going to toil in the minors while fans wonder when they will get to see him.
There is nothing wrong with letting him acclimate to his surroundings. If the talent is there though, it needs to be utilized. The hockey minds do see more than fans though and Doug Armstrong is being careful.
“It looked like he hadn’t played since December,” Armstrong told the Post-Dispatch. “I thought he got caught in between plays every once in a while. But then as the game when on, his pace and just things came back to him naturally.”
Some will accuse Armstrong of holding kids back or being a wet blanket. He’s more a pragmatist really.
That is the key phrase – earn it. The Blues need scoring help and the GM is not foolish enough to keep scoring in the minors if Kostin can actually help in the NHL.
Armstrong is not going to dump Kostin into a situation where he will not succeed either. We cannot ignore the Russian problem.
While the Blues were smart to take Vladimir Tarasenko and appear smart to have taken Kostin, you cannot deny the adjustment period.
While nobody would deny Tarasenko had a good rookie season, he only managed 43 points whereas he has hit 70-plus every season since. The language barrier and getting used to a different culture is usually more of an impact than any real differences in the game.
Kostin might actually be ahead of the game there. “My teammates during the (development) camp helped me and showed me around town,” Kostin said to Jim Thomas. “They took me to Six Flags and some other parks. I’m also looking at the places where I potentially could be getting an apartment soon.”
The more he feels welcomed and part of the team, the better this guy is going to perform. As with any preseason or summer action, you can only extrapolate performance into expectation so far.
Still, I will be very surprised if Kostin does not play at least 20 NHL games this season. As long as those games are earned and not because of injury, then the Blues are going to reap the benefits. I have a gut feeling that 10 years from now we will be asking how the Blues got this guy for Reaves instead of lamenting Reaves’ departure.