In every draft there will always be hidden gems that go in the later rounds and end up becoming superstars in the league.
Look at the Detriot Red Wings for example, they selected Pavel Datsyuk with the 171st pick of the 1998 NHL draft, and Hendrik Zetterberg with the 210th pick of the 1999 draft. Both players have had outstanding careers in the NHL and have been superstars for over 10 years.
In my opinion, the Maple Leafs may have found themselves a gem when they picked Nikita Korostelev with the 185th overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft. Now I’m not saying that Korostelev is going to be like Datsyuk or Zetterberg and become a superstar in the league, but he definitely does have the tools to become a very high skilled winger in the NHL.
The interesting part to me about Korostelev is the fact that most people had him ranked to go between 53rd and 69th overall in the draft, but he ended up slipping into the Leafs hands at 185.
Korostelev’s 2015 Draft Rankings:
- 2015 NHL Entry Draft: Ranked #53 by Hockeyprospect.com
- 2015 NHL Entry Draft: Ranked #60 by ISS Hockey
- 2015 NHL Entry Draft: Ranked #62 by Future Considerations
- 2015 NHL Entry Draft: Ranked #50 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)
- 2015 NHL Entry Draft: Ranked #69 by TSN/McKenzie
Korostelev is listed at 6’1 and 194 pounds. He uses his size very well and is extremely tough to knock off the puck. He isn’t known to be a physical player but, can play a physical game if needed.
I have had the chance to watch Korostelev live a number of times this season and still cannot understand how he was available at 185. Korostelev is dangerous from anywhere in the offensive zone. What makes him so dangerous is his shot. In my opinion his shot is the strongest part of his game because he gets so much on it with little time but, is still extremely accurate.
Another very strong part of Korostelev’s game is his stick handling abilities and creativity with the puck. I have seen him pull off a number of moves that I have never seen before and wondered how he just pulled it off.
With that being said about his ability to stickhandle and be creative, I have noticed that at times he likes to make that extra move that results in a turnover. But, that is something he can work on and if he makes the jump to the NHL he will learn very quickly not to make the extra move all of the time.
Since the draft Korostelev has put up decent numbers with the Sarnia Sting. Last season he had 23 goals and 42 points in 53 games. But, he has also worked on the defensive side of his game and was solid in his defensive end. He ended the 2015-2016 season as a plus 13.
Overall, at this point in time it is very tough to predict what Korostelev’s future in hockey is going to look like, but he definitely has the tools to become a high skilled winger in the NHL.