Weight: 188 pounds
Date of birth: May 26, 2001
Hometown: Minsk, Belarus
OHL Draft: Round 2, 102nd overall, 2018 CHL Import Draft (London Knights)
NHL Central Scouting Rankings: pre-season: B prospect, November: A prospect, mid-term: 22nd NA
To say it’s been a bit of a whirlwind season for Flint Firebirds’ defenseman Vladislav Kolyachonok is an understatement. Drafted by the London Knights at the 2018 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft, once the Chicago Black Hawks decided they would send Adam Boqvist to the OHL, the Knights were left in a position to decide which Import they would place on waivers so they could comply with the CHL rule that the team could only ice two imports.
The Sudbury Wolves had the first crack at Kolyachonok but were already in the position of having two imports on the roster. The Firebirds were second and made room for his arrival by releasing Nikita Alexandrov and on October 2, 2018, the claim was made. Unfortunately for Firebirds’ fans, a delay in obtaining a U.S. Visa kept him out of the lineup until October 26, 2018.
To date, Kolyachonok has 4 goals and 23 assists in 45 games, good for third among the OHL’s draft eligible defenders, despite having played in as many as 15 fewer games.
At 6’2” Kolyachonok has good size but lacks the bulk to his frame. But once he adds that bulk, there are areas to his game that will show improvement. For example, he will not shy away from physicality, but the added strength will not only make him a physical force, but I believe it will give him greater confidence going into board battles, or those battles to claim the space in front of his netminder.
Kolyachonok is an excellent skater with tremendous agility and very good speed. His excellent mobility was proven at the Sherwin-Williams NHL/CHL Top Prospects Game testing both on ice and off ice where he finished fifth overall in the testing. He ranked third in forward skating with the puck, first in reaction without the puck, second in transition agility without the puck and first in transition agility with the puck.
In off-ice testing, Kolyachonok ranked second in the broad jump, and first in pro-agility left. All in all, a very good showing.
Kolyachonok is an intelligent player. His positioning in the defensive zone is very sound. His skating allows him to angle opponents off – difficult to beat one-on-one. He uses a very active stick to defend and closes lanes smartly and quickly. His transitioning from defence to offence is excellent. He has the ability to skate out of danger and out of the zone but he is also capable of making an excellent first pass. He is also a left shot defender who plays as strong on his off side.
Offensively, Kolyachonok reads plays extremely well. He is capable of jumping into the play but chooses his opportunities very carefully. He is not a risk taker but I wonder how much of that is confidence, or that he worries about defence first on a team that while is trending in the right direction, still needs some work. And how much of it is due to getting use to the North American game?
Once in the offensive zone, he rarely makes a bad pinch, choosing the safe play most of the time. He sees the ice extremely well and is an excellent passer. He has a very good shot from the point that almost always hits the target, and he gets his shot through. Most of the time he keeps it low looking for tips or trying to create rebounds.
Kolyachonok is a very raw player – a project if you will, who, in my humble opinion, has all the tools to be a solid two-way defender at the next level.