The San Jose Sharks announced today that they have signed forward Vladislav Kotkov to a standard entry-level contract. Kotkov, a 6-foot-4, 205 pound Russian winger for the Chicoutimi Saguenéens of the QMJHL, scored 51 points in 67 games (including playoffs) this season.
While old NHL equivalency scores suggested players going straight from the QMJHL to the NHL retain about 28% of their scoring, new more in-depth research by Emmanuel Perry shows that number (and the number for the entire CHL) is closer to 13%. Regardless of which translation factor you use, 0.76 points per game during a draft year isn’t terribly exciting.
Thanks to some avid number crunchers and site scrapers, we have more information than just points per game. According to prospect-stats.com, Kotkov ranks sixth among 17-to-18-year-old Q forwards in terms of estimated primary points per 60 minutes of even-strength ice time. He ranks eighth among that same cohort for expected goals per 60 minutes of even-strength ice time.
Thanks to research from Canucks Army, we can see that Kotkov registered a primary point on 19.4 percent of his team’s even-strength goals, a solid mark. Jeremy Davis’ prospect cohort success model gives Kotkov a 26 percent chance of making the NHL, which is likely why the site ranked him among its top-100 skaters (88) and why Central Scouting listed him as its 81st-ranked skater among those playing in North American leagues.
Another tool — “betweenness” — allows us to see how dependent a player was on his teammates to register points.
The first two rows are the most important. Those rows look at two things. First, at how dependent Kotkov was relative to his teammates: He was not overly dependent on any one skater, and other teammates depended on him to score. Second, they look at his scoring rate adjusted for his age and league. Finally, the two metrics are put on the same scale and averaged together at even-strength and all strengths. Kotkov’s numbers in those departments place him in the 95th percentile among draft eligible skaters in the CHL and USHL this season, an impressive number. A more famous draft pick this year is next to him, for comparison.
Finally, Kotkov generated a fair amount of shots at even-strength and had a solid expected shooting percentage, suggesting he was not simply firing shots from the half boards.
Skating seems to be Kotkov’s biggest issue and likely the reason he was glossed over during June’s draft. Despite that weakness, scouts have offered glowing reports of his play. Steve Kournianos of the Draft Analyst, writes that Kotkov is “blessed with puck skills, size, smarts and a deceptively-quick first step.” Not only does the winger seemingly possess the innate talents required of top-notch hockey players, but he has also learned to use his size to his advantage. Kournianos continues, describing how, “taking it away from [Kotkov] is a tall order, as he has a long reach and strong lower body to maintain balance while keeping the puck safe from looting.”
Future Considerations believes Kotkov is a goal-scoring, future top-6 NHL winger, the ideal projection for any forward pick, let alone an undrafted signee. If he can figure out his skating mechanics, signing Kotkov might even top Doug Wilson’s penchant for hitting on seventh-round lottery tickets.