– Vladislav Kolyachonok –
Flint Firebirds (OHL) | Defence| 2019 NHL Draft Eligible
Minsk, Belarus| May 26th, 2001 | 6-foot-2, 185-pounds
The 2018-19 OHL campaign was an extremely trying one for the Flint Firebirds, who struggled mightily out of the gate and were never able to turn their season around. However, there were rays of hope throughout the season, as a number of Firebirds players began to establish themselves as capable contributors in spite of the team’s struggles.
Of the lot, perhaps the most impressive of which is 2019 NHL Draft eligible defenceman Vladislav Kolyachonok. A natural two-way defender, Kolyachonok’s speed and offensive instincts shine bright on a game-by-game basis, while his ability to adapt under pressure while remaining confident speaks wonders with regards to his potential at the next-level.
- Skating Speed and Agility
- Confidence in Possession
- Offensive Instincts
- Play Processing
As mentioned above, Kolyachonok is an impressive skater who utilizes his explosive speed and ample agility in order to rush the puck up ice or smother attackers within his defensive zone. Once in possession of the puck is when Kolyachonok’s skating shines the brightest, as the native of Minsk, Belarus can blow past opposing players and his endlessly confident in his ability to do so.
Related: 2019 NHL Draft Rankings
This confidence while in possession of the puck is one of Kolyachonok’s greatest qualities, as it allows the youngster to secure breakouts and transport the puck with an impressive level of consistency. Amplified by Kolyachonok’s puck confidence is the youngster’s offensive capabilities and instincts, as an unparalleled trust in his abilities allows Kolyachonok to play a devastating role in the attacking zone — whether it be from the blue line or below the goal line.
This ability to dominate the offensive zone has an immense influence on Kolyachonok’s approach defensively. While he is a sturdy defender of ample ability who plays well within his own zone, Kolyachonok loves to possess the puck and will not hesitate to skate the puck out of trouble rather than simply clear it off of the glass — an ability which drives possession and offensive opportunities for his team.
Areas of Improvement:
- Defensive Positioning
Although Kolyachonok’s skating abilities and confidence with the puck stand as two of the youngster’s most impressive traits, they can — at times — lead to significant defensive lapses. Owing to his natural offensive instincts and drive, Kolyachonok can be caught out of position at times due to his attempts to single-handedly generate scoring chances.
In the years ahead, Kolyachonok will do well to solidify his own zone before attempting to utilize his unique skill set at the opposite end of the ice. One able to do so effectively and with consistency, Kolyachonok will become a truly lethal two-way defender — the mould of defenceman widely sought after by NHL organizations.
Related: 2019 NHL Draft Profiles
In order to immediately improve his defensive game, Kolyachonok would do well to utilize his physicality on a more regular basis. Standing 6-foot-2 and 185-pounds, Kolyachonok features stellar size yet isn’t always willing to use it in order to separate his opponents from the puck.
Come the 2019 NHL Draft, Kolyachonok may very well be chosen within the top-31 overall owing to his natural offensive instincts and rangy defensive play.
Sure, there is a great deal of room for improvement within Kolyachonok’s game, however, the youngster’s raw skill set is simply undeniable and will be of immense potential once further polished. Although he will likely prove to be a long-term project not ready for NHL action until at least the 2021-22 campaign, Kolyachonok is an intriguing prospect who could ascend much sooner if able to adapt to the North American professional-level.