Off The Top Of My Head
Photo credit:Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports
10 months ago
Like unexpectedly finding a $50 bill in your jacket pocket, big Russian Klim Kostin has been a pleasant surprise since being summoned from AHL Bakersfield by the Edmonton Oilers after being acquired from the St. Louis Blues for Dmitri Samorukov by way of trade Oct. 9.
“I see somebody taking advantage of opportunity,” coach Jay Woodcroft said after the 23-year-old Kostin recorded his second two-goal game of the season in a 6-2 waltz over the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday. Kostin followed that up with his eighth goal to make it 2-0 in a 7-1 waxing of San Jose Friday and he added an exclamation mark by notching the winner in a 4-3 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday.
“He was drafted in the first round for a reason, right? He has a skillset about him. I think he’s playing a power-forward game. He’s finding success and chemistry with some of his linemates . . . we’re looking for consistency from him and five goals in seven games (prior to games Friday and Saturday) speaks to that.”
“Right now I feel a little more confident than the start of the year,” Kostin said. “Like I said before, it’s easy to play with those guys. With Nuge (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) and Janny (Mattias Janmark), we understand each other really well and we have cool chemistry. So yeah, it’s easy to play with those guys.”
When asked about coming up a goal short of his first NHL hat-trick for the second time in two weeks, Kostin replied with the same sense of humor he’s displayed often since arriving from the minors. “I didn’t deserve the hat-trick yet,” he told reporters. “I need to work a little harder. It’s not time for hat-trick.”
With the goal against Las Vegas, Kostin sits at 9-4-13 in 29 games, blowing by his previous season-high of nine points (4-5-9) in the 40 games he played with St. Louis in 2021-22. Samorukov, meanwhile, spent the first 34 games of the season in the AHL with the Springfield Thunderbirds before being recalled by the Blues last week.
His production aside, Kostin has provided Woodcroft the kind of physical presence the Oilers have lacked up front with Evander Kane out of the line-up. Kostin’s combination of edginess, size and offensive ability are exactly the dimensions the Oilers are going to need down the stretch and in post-season.
Kostin is on a cap-friendly contract of $750,000 for the balance of this season, but he’s going to get paid on any new deal he does the ink on with GM Ken Holland with the way he’s been playing in recent games.
While I liked the novelty of the shootout when the NHL introduced it for the 2005-06 regular season, count me among the many who would rather see an extended overtime session to decide games now.
Host Tim Micallef of Tim and Friends asked Oilers’ captain Connor McDavid about how he’d feel about extending OT to 10 minutes and ditching the shootout on his show this week. No real surprise, given how dominant McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have been in overtime, how he feels about it.
“Yeah, I’d like that,” McDavid said. “I think the shootout, no one loves the shootout, it’s a crappy way to finish a game, but, at the end of the day also, it’s about the players health and safety. It’s a long season. The overtime, it taxes a lot of guys, so making that longer could have some effects there, but I agree with you in the sense that no one wants to see the game end in a shootout.”
FROM THE TOP
McDavid’s 3-1 goal against the Ducks drew praise from high places – namely Teemu Selanne, who provided fans more than his share of highlight reel goals among the 684 he scored during his 1,451-game NHL career.
Selanne on Twitter: “Ladies and gentlemen Connor McDavid show in Anaheim💪wow… never seen player like this…”
As most of you know, McDavid celebrated his 26th birthday on Friday. He hit that milestone with 776 points – before adding two goals and an assist against the Sharks — which is fifth-best all-time by age 26. Only Wayne Gretzky (1,459), Mario Lemieux (885), Dale Hawerchuk (848) and Steve Yzerman (800)
AND . . .
With RNH reaching the 20-goal mark for the fifth time in his career, the Oilers have four players with 20-or-more goals on the season – Draisaitl, McDavid, RNH and Zach Hyman. They had five hit 20 last season with Draisaitl, McDavid, Hyman, Kane and Kailer Yamamoto.
The Oilers’ franchise record for 20-goal scorers in one season is eight. The NHL record is 11, set by the Boston Bruins in 1977-78.
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