There is no doubt that Sarnia Sting forward Nikta Korostelev has been off to an amazing start to the year. His 1.25 points per game are above anyone on the Sting. He is one of the more higher ranked forwards in the upcoming 2015 NHL Draft, but there are some that seem to overlook Korostelev.
Being on a team that is in the middle of their division, Korostelev has done a lot to keep the Sting from falling down further. Korostelev has really climbed up the draft standings, and he should be climbing up even further. The thing in his way, like in many other cases, is that there is so much talent above him. Not just 1st round talent, two generational players and others who can come into the league AND be successful and help their team.
Korostelev is adapting well to the North American game, coming from Russia. He has 27 points 22 games into the season. Last year, he scored 38 points in 60 games total. Korostelev has only gotten better starting from his games in midget, where as other players put up outrageous numbers in midget, then dial down once they reach the higher levels.
Another underrated quality Nikita Korostelev has is his ability to make the team better. While he is on the ice, the Sarnia Sting’s even strength goals for percentage is 71.0%. Combine that with the teams goals against percentage while he is on the ice and it is still a very positive 29.0%. Compared to Travis Konecny whose team, the Ottawa 67’s, has a -16% rel ESGF (goals-for minus combined with goals-against).
Korostelev has a key skill in knowing the competition as well. When against teams within one spot of their division lead, Korostelev has 12 points, nearly half of the total points he’s acquired.
Another problem the 6’1″ forward faces is the fact that he is from Russia. Countless of people have judged players more severely due to the stereotypes that have risen about Russian players. The laziness, the inability to play defense, its just doesn’t make sense to say that about Korostelev.
He could use more help on D, but what prospect doesn’t? His skating is great. His determination is great. He is a great hockey player. So why should his nationality hide that? It would be a mistake if a team were to skip over him and let him fall into the hands of a better team, later in the first round.
Adding to the point made earlier about Kororstelev making a team he is on better, Nikita Korostelev has 37.31% of his teams points and 17.91% of the Sting’s goals. Plus he is not even leading the Sting in average ice time. Korostelev averages 19.32 minutes per game, and Daniel Nikandrov leads forwards in average ice time with 21.78 minutes. That puts Korostelev at 3.88 points per 60 minutes which is right in the thick of top ten 2015 NHL Draft prospects.
Nikita Korostelev doesn’t deserve to be outside the top 15, but being a Sabres fan I’d love to see other teams make the mistake of letting him slide. The Sabres own two other first round that belong to the New York Islanders and the St. Louis Blues. The Islanders may seem like a contender this year, but the Blues pick may come right around the 20-25 mark. That is where other mock draft sites are putting Korotelev at. Being a winger, Korostelev can add to the Sabres lack of depth the organization has when it comes to prospects.
Korostelev played Wednesday night, but did not register a point. His next game is on Friday night against the Owen Sound Attack.
VIDEO: Highlights from a game last month, where Korostelv scored a Hat Trick in a 9-2 Sarnia Sting blowout win over the Windsor Spitfires…