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Taken in the second round of the CHL Import Draft by the London Knights, Vladislav Kolyachonok played just one game for the team, recording an assist, before he was waived and picked up by the Flint Firebirds. The Chicago Blackhawks decision to send Adam Boqvist to London left the Knights with too many import players on the roster and they had little choice but to make the move. Playing on a weak Firebirds squad, Kolyachonok put up four goals and 25 assists for 29 points in 53 games. Kolyachonok was named to the OHL’s All-Rookie team.
When the Firebirds missed the playoffs, Kolyachonok joined the Belarus team for the IIHF Under-18 World Championships. Again playing on a weak squad, Kolyachonok was amongst the best defencemen in the tournament and his big minutes helped the team avoid relegation. He put up one goal and four assists for five points in five games and was named a top three player on the team. He was also a top three player on last year’s Belarus team in the same tournament, playing as a 16-year-old.
Vladislav Kolyachonok Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Left
Born May 26th, 2001 — Minsk, Belarus
Height 6’2″ — Weight 181 lbs [187 cm/82 kg]
An outstanding skater, Kolyachonok uses this as the basis of a strong two-way game. He has very good speed both moving forwards and backwards. However, his first few steps and his acceleration really stand out. His skating can be described as explosive, as he can power into a hit, or win a short race for a loose puck, or turn on an extra gear to carry the puck past a forechecker or a defender in the neutral zone. He combines this with really good footwork and agility. Kolyachonok’s pivots are crisp, giving him the ability to transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. He is strong on his skates. His balance allows him to protect the puck when carrying it as well as to win battles in the corners and in front of the net.
Kolyachonok uses his skating to move the puck up the ice. He combines this with good stickhandling and puck protection skills. Kolyachonok can skate past forecheckers and out of dangerous areas in his own zone. His speed and agility allow him to create passing lanes and move the puck up the ice on the breakout. He is also able to lead the rush and generate clean entries at the offensive blue line. Poised with the puck on his stick, Kolyachonok has good vision and can make the long breakaway pass from his own end as well as quarterback things from the point on the power play. His point totals might not show it yet, as playing on a weak team has led to lower numbers this season, but there is an offensive game here.
His game would be even better if he improved his shot. Kolyachonok’s slap shot is below average and as a result, he does not really use it a lot. Instead, he prefers to sneak down from the point and let off a wrist shot. While his wrist shot is better and more accurate, relatively speaking, he could use a quicker release and a bit more power as well. This might improve as he adds upper body strength, but it is unlikely to be a plus-tool at the next level. The concern here is that without a shot to keep defenders honest, his offensive production will always be less than what it could otherwise be.
Kolyachonok is strong defensively. His skating allows him to maintain good gap control and he is difficult to beat one-on-one. He often plays big minutes for Flint, going up against the league’s top players. Kolyachonok is willing to play a physical game, throwing hits along the boards and battling in front of his net. However, he is disciplined enough not to chase out of position or to take bad penalties. Kolyachonok will need to develop his upper-body strength before he is ready to play this style in the pros. He reads the play extremely well and cuts off passing and shooting lanes. Kolyachonok adapted very quickly to the smaller ice surface, which shows his hockey IQ and work ethic. A left-hand shot Kolyachonok is able to play both left and right defence, another sign of his hockey IQ and adaptability.
Projection and Comparison
Kolyachonok could develop into a top-four defender capable of playing in all situations and matching up against top lines. His game will need time to develop as he needs to add upper body strength and there are some questions if he can use his offensive weapons and shot more consistently going forward. He could be three or four years away from the NHL, but if he develops to his ceiling, could be a valuable piece of an NHL team. Excellent skating, good size, strong work ethic and high hockey IQ all suggest that he could develop with proper coaching. In terms of style, Kolyachonok is similar to Mattias Ekholm, however, this is a style comparison only and not one based on skill or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Vladislav Kolyachonok that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect in our NHL Draft series.
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