Klim Kostin=found $$

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As of right now Klim Kostin could easily be labelled the surprise of the season from an Edmonton Oilers roster standpoint. He came here as a project, a failed first round draft pick from St. Louis in exchange for buried d-man Dmitri Samorukov.

It usually takes years to understand the true impact of trades, even minor ones like this, but right now the pendulum on this trade is clearly on the Edmonton Oilers side right now in terms of who is winning this trade.

Kostin started out the year in the minors in Bakersfield but after putting up four points in nine games and injuries hitting, Kostin was called up to see what he could do with a fresh start. Kostin has since proven himself to be a valuable fourth liner, to the point where people have stopped saying the Edmonton Oilers need a physical player who can muck it up in their bottom six because Kostin is proving to be that guy.

He’s not been back down to Bakersfield since and if his current play continues he may never see the minors again for quite some time – of course bottom six forwards and bottom pairing D should never consider their roster spots to be secure as they’re a lot easier to replace than higher paid, more talented players in the top six forward group as well as the top four D pairings. But, if current trends continue, he should be fine. Any feedback for him at this point is just “keep doing what you’re doing.”

For anyone who saw the Arizona game two days ago you saw that Kostin got a Gordie Howe hat trick – and the fight was against Zack Kassian back for his first trip to Edmonton since his trade – not exactly an easy opponent to go against but Kostin held his own well enough. I wouldn’t say he won the fight but he got a couple of good jabs in enough to show that he means business.

Don’t expect him to do that every game – it’s tough for a fourth liner to do that period, never mind game in game out. But, it certainly was a feather in Kostin’s cap as he’s made a solid impression in the 11 games he’s played for the Oilers so far and has helped to solidify the fourth line as well as get limited time on the third line, a place where he doesn’t seem to look out of place on.

Kostin’s biggest contribution to the roster, though, is his physical ability. Kostin is a solidly built player at 6’3″ and 215 lbs of muscle, and he’s not afraid at all the use his size. He currently sits 11th on the team in hits in his 11 games with 26, only four away from the top 10 as he’s a mere four hits from his closest competitor Brett Kulak.

I predict he’ll likely overtake Kulak within the next three or four games for a spot in the top 10 as he currently sits third in hits/60 with 14.07. Kulak, meanwhile, is pretty far down the list with 3.74. Only fellow callups Markus Niemelainen (sent back down to Bakersfield recently) and Brad Malone are ahead of him in hits/60 – and since Niemelainen isn’t here right now and Malone is an AHL bubble player on borrowed time (wasn’t even in the lineup against Arizona) it’s probably only a matter of time before he goes back down too.

Guys like that are known as “energy players” because they can help to rally the troops with a huge hit, especially if it’s on a good player.

Not only can Kostin hit, he can also handle his competition, finishing at a +1 in the early going, and including his moment in the sun against Arizona he’s also produced solidly for a fourth liner at 2-1-3 in those 11 games. If he can keep up those numbers he’ll produce 15 goals and 22 points. That might be too much to expect from a fourth liner but it wouldn’t be unheard of.

At this point there isn’t a reason for Jay Woodcroft to take him out of the lineup until Kostin gives him one. He may be a failed first round pick but that doesn’t mean a player can’t re-invent himself and find a role on his same team or another one. It appears that the fresh start that the Edmonton Oilers gave Kostin is paying dividends for them so far.

Hats off to Ken Holland for finding another diamond in the rough here, dealing from a position of strength to shore up a position of weakness.

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