FanPost

Checking in on the Kids: Nikita Korostelev

Metcalfe Photography

It's time to check in on another 2015 Leafs draft pick! My post on Mitch Marner starts with a bit of an introduction to my goals for these posts, as well as an explanation of my qualifications (spoiler alert: I don't have any). If you haven't already done so, give that article a read (if you are really opposed to reading about Mitch Marner for some reason, just read the first four paragraphs) and then head back here.

For the ninth and final installment of Checking In On The Kids we'll be looking at the Leafs' 7th-round pick, Nikita Korostelev of the Sarnia Sting. Korostelev's availability in the 7th round of the draft came as a bit of a surprise, as he was ranked much higher on many pre-draft rankings. Scott Wheeler had him ranked 34th in his final rankings, and Central Scouting had him at #50 on their list of North American skaters (for comparison, they had Travis Dermott at 46, Andrew Nielsen at 52, Jeremy Bracco at 60, and Dmytro Timashov all the way down at 92).

NHL teams evidently had some reservations about Korostelev, but his offensive skillset had many Leafs fans thinking he could be one of the best steals of the draft. Unfortunately his draft+1 season has not been going terribly well, as his scoring rate has dropped noticeably from last season. So were NHL teams smart to pass on him at the draft, or might they all look foolish in a few years for passing on him? Let's find out!

Note: Stats include games played on Feb. 16 but not Feb. 17. Korostelev did play on Feb. 17, and recorded no points.

Nikita Korostelev vs History!

Let's get this out of the way up front: Korostelev is scoring at a rate of 0.74 points per game so far this season, which isn't very good for an offence-first forward in his draft+1 season. You may recall that Stephen Desrocher is scoring at a rate of 0.63 P/GP this season, and he's a defensive defenceman. Also of note, Frederik Gauthier scored at a rate of 0.96 P/GP in his draft+1 season in the QMJHL. Sure, it may be a bit easier to score in the Q than it is in the OHL, but Gauthier still outscored Korostelev's current pace despite being a defence-first centre who is not seen as having much in the way of offensive upside.

Who are our historical comparables? Well, over the previous six seasons (2009-10 through 2014-15) 33 draft+1 forwards scored at a rate from 0.7 to 0.8 P/GP. 16 of those players were undrafted, so I'm going to leave them out of this list to keep it from getting too long. So here are the 17 drafted players in the 0.7-0.8 P/GP range, plus two players who just missed the cutoff but who may be a bit more familiar to Leafs fans:

Name

Season

GP

G

A

P

P/GP

Drafted

Justin Bailey

2013

54

24

19

43

0.8

2 (52) - BUF

Austen Brassard

2011

64

27

24

51

0.8

5 (149) - WPG

Eric Cornel

2014

66

14

38

52

0.79

2 (44) - BUF

Radek Faksa

2012

39

9

22

31

0.79

1 (13) - DAL

Brock McGinn

2012

68

28

26

54

0.79

2 (47) - CAR

Garrett Meurs

2011

67

20

33

53

0.79

5 (123) - COL

Jimmy Lodge

2013

59

19

27

46

0.78

3 (84) - WPG

John McFarland

2010

49

25

13

38

0.78

2 (33) - FLA

Connor Chatham

2014

48

17

20

37

0.77

3 (71) - NJD

Michael Schumacher

2011

65

26

24

50

0.77

7 (200) - LAK

Steven Shipley

2010

65

18

32

50

0.77

4 (98) - BUF

Reid Boucher

2011

67

28

22

50

0.75

4 (99) - NJD

Nikita Korostelev

2015

39

16

13

29

0.74

7 (185) - TOR

Daniil Zharkov

2012

59

25

18

43

0.73

3 (91) - EDM

Mitchell Heard*

2010

66

19

29

48

0.73

2 (41) - COL

Josh Anderson

2012

68

23

26

49

0.72

4 (95) - CBJ

Andy Andreoff*

2009

67

15

33

48

0.72

3 (80) - LAK

Justin Kea

2012

68

22

26

48

0.71

3 (73) - BUF

Richard Pánik

2009

60

21

20

41

0.68

2 (52) - TBL

Kenny Ryan

2009

52

14

21

35

0.67

2 (50) - TOR

Stats in this table are from eliteprospects.com

(*Heard and Andreoff were not drafted until the draft following their draft+2 seasons)

This is a motley assortment of players, and remember that 16 other players scored in the same range but were never selected in the NHL draft. Some of these guys still have NHL potential, and there are some surprisingly high draft picks, but so far the most successful guy on that list is Richard Pánik, who has 43 points in 165 NHL games.

There's another comparable I'd like to look at in a bit more detail: 2014-15 Nikita Korostelev. Korostelev's scoring rate is down by about 0.25 P/GP compared to last season, which is not what we want to see. But maybe he had a similarly slow start last season and really turned it on toward the end? Or maybe he just had a stretch of good luck last season which he hasn't been able to replicate this year? I've prepared some graphs to compare this season with the previous one, so let's see what they say!

3YkJdgQ.0.png

Stats in these graphs are from ontariohockeyleague.com

Korostelev did have a stronger start last season, but he also generally kept up a better pace throughout the season. He'll need to really pick up the pace if he wants to catch his point total from last season. Now let's see how his P/GP rate has changed throughout each season:

hWXEjA8.0.png

Last season, Korostelev started strong and then saw his production rate decrease a bit, but he still stayed around 1 P/GP. His lowered scoring rate seems to coincide with the injury he suffered in game 34, which caused him to miss 12 games before playing his 35th. His scoring rate had started to decrease before that game, though, so it's difficult to say how much of an impact the injury had. This season he was injured in his 36th game and missed 15 games before recently returning, so we'll see what sort of effect that might have.

Let's break down his scoring rates into goals and assists. First let's see how his goal scoring this season compares to last season:

a18EG97.0.png

AEFipsq.0.png

Korostelev's goal-scoring pace has caught up to 2014 Korostelev's, thanks to a scoring slump he suffered from game 25 to game 40 last year, in which he only scored 2 goals. His goal-scoring pace has been steadily improving recently, so if he can keep that up he could finish the season with a better G/GP rate than he had last season.

Now let's compare his assists with last season:

rdjqn1G.0.png

dRsmewT.0.png

Yikes. Korostelev's assist rate started strong this season, but then his A/GP rate turned into what looks like a pretty rad snowboarding hill. Normally I'm in favour of rad snowboarding hills, but in this case it is not a good thing at all. He has recorded a whopping 4 assists in his past 26 games, which is just plain bad. Korostelev was never advertised as a playmaker, but he was able to record assists at a respectable pace last season so something is apparently off this year.

The main skill for which Korostelev is known is his shot, so it's probably better to see his assist rate down compared to last season than it would be to see his goal rate down that much. His value to the Leafs is as a goal scorer, so the most important thing is that he keeps scoring lots of goals. It would obviously be preferable to see him scoring more goals than he did last season, but his regression may not be as bad as his P/GP rate seems to indicate.


Nikita Korostelev vs The Present!

Korostelev's P/GP pace this season is the 24th-highest among draft+1 forwards in the OHL this season. He drops to 27th if we include defencemen, but we're not going to do that because defencemen aren't really comparable. Here's how Korostelev fits in with the 15th-30th best P/GP rates among his draft class:

GP

Age

GP

G

1A

2A

P

Sh%

P/GP

Aaron Luchuk

18.447

54

22

17

7

46

17.6

0.852

Artem Artemov

18.66

54

16

22

7

45

9.091

0.833

Trent Fox

18.167

54

24

11

9

44

15.385

0.815

Mason Kohn

18.37

53

15

18

10

43

10.563

0.811

Gustaf Franzen

18.981

53

13

22

7

42

10.656

0.792

Brett McKenzie

18.512

51

22

11

7

40

14.013

0.784

James McEwan

18.504

53

20

12

8

40

10.309

0.755

Jeremiah Addison

18.901

53

22

10

8

40

14.379

0.755

Nikita Korostelev

18.6

39

16

8

5

29

14.286

0.744

Petrus Palmu

18.167

37

11

11

4

26

7.857

0.703

Artur Tyanulin

18.652

54

10

15

12

37

12.195

0.685

Ryan Moore

18.436

53

17

8

11

36

14.53

0.679

Johnny Corneil

18.082

53

17

8

9

34

18.681

0.642

Roy Radke

18.764

53

17

12

5

34

13.492

0.642

Matthew Kreis

18.123

52

15

13

4

32

13.636

0.615

Stats in this section are from prospect-stats.com

Of those players, the only ones who were selected in the NHL draft are Korostelev, Jeremiah Addison (Round 7, 207th overall), and Roy Radke (Round 6, 164th overall). That isn't the most inspiring group of peers, but Korostelev only has 5 secondary assists so perhaps he'll do better in primary points?

With apologies for the lengthy table, here's the top 25 draft+1 forwards for Prim. P/GP:

GP

Age

GP

G

1A

Prim. P

Prim. P/GP

Mitchell Marner

18.364

43

34

40

74

1.721

Dylan Strome

18.526

41

28

34

62

1.512

Travis Konecny

18.515

48

22

38

60

1.25

Jeremy Bracco

18.499

40

17

23

40

1

Christian Fischer

18.419

52

26

25

51

0.981

Dante Salituro

18.833

53

30

21

51

0.962

Julius Nattinen

18.668

39

15

22

37

0.949

Pavel Zacha

18.444

42

23

16

39

0.929

Lawson Crouse

18.23

35

14

17

31

0.886

Mitchell Stephens

18.608

26

14

8

22

0.846

Zachary Senyshyn

18.463

52

33

10

43

0.827

Matt Luff

18.364

48

20

16

36

0.75

Aaron Luchuk

18.447

54

22

17

39

0.722

Artem Artemov

18.66

54

16

22

38

0.704

Blake Speers

18.701

53

15

20

35

0.66

Gustaf Franzen

18.981

53

13

22

35

0.66

Trent Fox

18.167

54

24

11

35

0.648

Brett McKenzie

18.512

51

22

11

33

0.647

Anthony Cirelli

18.17

50

16

16

32

0.64

Mason Kohn

18.37

53

15

18

33

0.623

Nikita Korostelev

18.6

39

16

8

24

0.615

Kenny Huether

18.11

51

22

9

31

0.608

Jeremiah Addison

18.901

53

22

10

32

0.604

James McEwan

18.504

53

20

12

32

0.604

Petrus Palmu

18.167

37

11

11

22

0.595

He comes in at 21, which is a small improvement, but is still well behind the "really good" prospects (I'd say Senyshyn is probably the cutoff there).

Now let's see where he fits in with the top 20 players for even strength scoring, sorted by ES Prim. P/GP:

GP

Age

GP

ES G

ES 1A

ES 2A

ES Prim. P

ES P

ES Prim. P/GP

ES P/GP

Dylan Strome

18.526

41

20

18

10

38

48

0.927

1.171

Travis Konecny

18.515

48

18

26

12

44

56

0.917

1.167

Mitchell Marner

18.364

43

17

21

9

38

47

0.884

1.093

Mitchell Stephens

18.608

26

13

6

0

19

19

0.731

0.731

Jeremy Bracco

18.499

40

15

13

6

28

34

0.7

0.85

Zachary Senyshyn

18.463

52

26

9

4

35

39

0.673

0.75

Christian Fischer

18.419

52

18

16

9

34

43

0.654

0.827

Lawson Crouse

18.23

35

7

15

5

22

27

0.629

0.771

Matt Luff

18.364

48

18

12

4

30

34

0.625

0.708

Aaron Luchuk

18.447

54

20

13

5

33

38

0.611

0.704

Julius Nattinen

18.668

39

7

15

11

22

33

0.564

0.846

Artem Artemov

18.66

54

11

19

5

30

35

0.556

0.648

Pavel Zacha

18.444

42

13

10

4

23

27

0.548

0.643

Dante Salituro

18.833

53

18

10

12

28

40

0.528

0.755

Mason Kohn

18.37

53

13

14

8

27

35

0.509

0.66

Gustaf Franzen

18.981

53

8

18

6

26

32

0.491

0.604

Brett McKenzie

18.512

51

17

8

6

25

31

0.49

0.608

Trent Fox

18.167

54

17

9

4

26

30

0.481

0.556

Kole Sherwood

18.647

52

10

13

7

23

30

0.442

0.577

Nikita Korostelev

18.6

39

10

7

3

17

20

0.436

0.513

Korostelev ranks 20th for even strength primary points per game, and 23rd for even strength points per game. His estimated even strength TOI is relatively low at 13.921 minutes per game, so maybe his /60 numbers will look a bit better:

GP

Age

GP

ES eTOI

ES eG/60

ES e1A/60

ES e2A/60

ES ePrim. P/60

ES eP/60

Mitchell Stephens

18.608

26

13.223

2.269

1.047

0

3.316

3.316

Travis Konecny

18.515

48

17.311

1.3

1.877

0.866

3.177

4.044

Mitchell Marner

18.364

43

16.904

1.403

1.733

0.743

3.137

3.88

Dylan Strome

18.526

41

20.2

1.449

1.304

0.724

2.753

3.477

Jeremy Bracco

18.499

40

16.212

1.388

1.203

0.555

2.591

3.146

Christian Fischer

18.419

52

15.536

1.337

1.188

0.668

2.525

3.193

Zachary Senyshyn

18.463

52

16.877

1.778

0.615

0.273

2.393

2.666

Aaron Luchuk

18.447

54

15.349

1.448

0.941

0.362

2.389

2.751

Matt Luff

18.364

48

16.571

1.358

0.905

0.302

2.263

2.565

Pavel Zacha

18.444

42

14.73

1.261

0.97

0.388

2.231

2.618

Artem Artemov

18.66

54

15.345

0.796

1.376

0.362

2.172

2.534

Lawson Crouse

18.23

35

17.522

0.685

1.468

0.489

2.152

2.642

Mason Kohn

18.37

53

14.326

1.027

1.106

0.632

2.134

2.766

Gustaf Franzen

18.981

53

13.839

0.654

1.472

0.491

2.127

2.618

Roy Radke

18.764

53

12.494

1.087

0.997

0.272

2.084

2.356

Troy Lajeunesse

18.323

49

12.399

1.185

0.889

0.593

2.074

2.666

Trent Fox

18.167

54

14.016

1.348

0.713

0.317

2.061

2.378

Kole Sherwood

18.647

52

13.247

0.871

1.132

0.61

2.003

2.613

Julius Nattinen

18.668

39

17.124

0.629

1.348

0.988

1.977

2.965

Dante Salituro

18.833

53

16.232

1.255

0.697

0.837

1.953

2.79

Brett McKenzie

18.512

51

15.53

1.288

0.606

0.455

1.894

2.348

Nikita Korostelev

18.6

39

13.921

1.105

0.774

0.332

1.879

2.21

Artur Tyanulin

18.652

54

12.171

0.73

1.096

0.639

1.826

2.465

Kenny Huether

18.11

51

14.752

1.196

0.479

0.479

1.675

2.153

Matthew Kreis

18.123

52

12.468

0.925

0.74

0.278

1.666

1.943

Korostelev ranks 22nd fo ES Prim. P/60, and 24th for ES P/60.

Of course, we already knew that Korostelev's assist numbers are awful this season, so it isn't too surprising that he's had such a poor showing in comparisons that include assists. If he is purely a goal scorer, maybe it's more fair to just compare his goal stats. First let's look at all-situations goal-scoring:

Name

Age

GP

G

G/GP

Mitchell Marner

18.364

43

34

0.791

Dylan Strome

18.526

41

28

0.683

Zachary Senyshyn

18.463

52

33

0.635

Dante Salituro

18.833

53

30

0.566

Pavel Zacha

18.444

42

23

0.548

Mitchell Stephens

18.608

26

14

0.538

Christian Fischer

18.419

52

26

0.5

Travis Konecny

18.515

48

22

0.458

Trent Fox

18.167

54

24

0.444

Kenny Huether

18.11

51

22

0.431

Brett McKenzie

18.512

51

22

0.431

Jeremy Bracco

18.499

40

17

0.425

Matt Luff

18.364

48

20

0.417

Jeremiah Addison

18.901

53

22

0.415

Nikita Korostelev

18.6

39

16

0.41

Aaron Luchuk

18.447

54

22

0.407

Lawson Crouse

18.23

35

14

0.4

Julius Nattinen

18.668

39

15

0.385

James McEwan

18.504

53

20

0.377

Johnny Corneil

18.082

53

17

0.321

Korostelev has the 15th-best G/GP rate in his draft class. Several other players have very similar G/GP rates, so Korostelev could easily move up or down a few spots.

Now on to even strength goals. We have estimated TOI data for even strength play, so this list will be sorted by ES eG/60:

Name

Age

GP

ES G

ES G/GP

ES eG/60

Mitchell Stephens

18.608

26

13

0.5

2.269

Zachary Senyshyn

18.463

52

26

0.5

1.778

Dylan Strome

18.526

41

20

0.488

1.449

Aaron Luchuk

18.447

54

20

0.37

1.448

Mitchell Marner

18.364

43

17

0.395

1.403

Jeremy Bracco

18.499

40

15

0.375

1.388

Matt Luff

18.364

48

18

0.375

1.358

Trent Fox

18.167

54

17

0.315

1.348

Christian Fischer

18.419

52

18

0.346

1.337

Travis Konecny

18.515

48

18

0.375

1.3

Brett McKenzie

18.512

51

17

0.333

1.288

Ben Fanjoy

18.351

53

15

0.283

1.267

Pavel Zacha

18.444

42

13

0.31

1.261

Dante Salituro

18.833

53

18

0.34

1.255

Kenny Huether

18.11

51

15

0.294

1.196

Troy Lajeunesse

18.323

49

12

0.245

1.185

Adrian Carbonara

18.512

37

6

0.162

1.177

Nikita Korostelev

18.6

39

10

0.256

1.105

Roy Radke

18.764

53

12

0.226

1.087

Mike Davies

18.608

46

9

0.196

1.06

Korostelev has the 18th-best ES eG/60, and also the 18th-best ES G/GP. A jump into the top-15 seems possible if he can continue to improve on his scoring rate, but top-10 is probably out of reach.

Finally, let's see how his powerplay goal-scoring rate stacks up:

Name

Age

GP

PP G

PP G/GP

Mitchell Marner

18.364

43

12

0.279

Dante Salituro

18.833

53

12

0.226

Pavel Zacha

18.444

42

9

0.214

Jeremiah Addison

18.901

53

11

0.208

Julius Nattinen

18.668

39

7

0.179

Dylan Strome

18.526

41

7

0.171

Lawson Crouse

18.23

35

6

0.171

Anthony Cirelli

18.17

50

8

0.16

Nikita Korostelev

18.6

39

6

0.154

Christian Fischer

18.419

52

8

0.154

Kenny Huether

18.11

51

7

0.137

Zachary Senyshyn

18.463

52

6

0.115

Johnny Corneil

18.082

53

6

0.113

Petrus Palmu

18.167

37

4

0.108

Ethan Szypula

18.63

51

5

0.098

Woo! Top 10!

If Korostelev is a one-dimensional goal scorer, we should expect to see him put up lots of goals on the power play. He kind of does, but only at the 9th-best rate in his draft class.

Korostelev's lack of defensive ability seems to have played a large role in his slide down the draft rankings. If he isn't producing a lot of offence, how is he affecting his team's goal differential? Let's take a look at this GF% numbers, along with 19 other players in the same range for GF%Rel:

Name

Age

GP

ES GFoI

ES GAoI

ES GF%

ES GF%Rel

Dylan Strome

18.526

41

60

42

58.824

1.542

Ryan Moore

18.436

53

35

43

44.872

1.012

Jake Henderson

18.589

43

28

19

59.574

-0.053

Ben Fanjoy

18.351

53

36

35

50.704

-0.662

Jacob Cascagnette

18.4

46

15

10

60

-0.714

Blake Speers

18.701

53

46

50

47.917

-0.972

Mike Davies

18.608

46

22

25

46.809

-1.396

Jeremiah Addison

18.901

53

40

38

51.282

-1.592

Matt Latin

18.496

45

10

14

41.667

-1.686

Jesse Barwell

18.356

55

34

50

40.476

-2.319

Sam Miletic

18.367

35

18

11

62.069

-3.448

Nikita Korostelev

18.6

39

31

24

56.364

-3.479

Ethan Szypula

18.63

51

29

36

44.615

-3.751

Maurizio Colella

18.488

51

19

29

39.583

-3.895

Devon Paliani

18.932

51

27

32

45.763

-4.004

Anthony Cirelli

18.17

50

30

42

41.667

-4.166

Gustaf Franzen

18.981

53

42

30

58.333

-4.167

Petrus Palmu

18.167

37

26

31

45.614

-4.386

Timo Haussener

18.436

22

3

10

23.077

-4.972

Lawson Crouse

18.23

35

34

32

51.515

-5.327

His team scored 56.364% of the even strength goals when Korostelev is on the ice, which is pretty good. Unfortunately for Korostelev, they do a bit better when he isn't on the ice. He's been on the ice for a total of 55 even strength goals this season, which is not a very big sample, but these numbers suggest that if he isn't scoring he becomes a bit of a liability.

So it doesn't look like Korostelev was a Timashov-esque steal. It's hard to be too upset about a 7th-round pick not panning out, though, and it's still too early to write him off completely. And if he can go on a goal-scoring tear to finish the season the outlook will be a bit better.

Nikita Korostelev vs The Future!

Korostelev was born in 1997 so he will not be eligible to play in the AHL or ECHL next season. Even if he were eligible, I doubt Leafs management would be in a hurry to have him join one of the pro teams. Another year in the OHL looks very likely, and is probably the best option for his development.

Hopefully this season will prove to be an anomaly and Korostelev will spend his draft+2 season wrecking shit. He came to Canada as a 14-year-old for the sake of his hockey career, so he clearly has NHL aspirations. Unfortunately his current pace isn't likely to get him there. A strong 2016-17 season could earn him a contract with the Leafs, but if 2015-16 is an accurate reflection of his abilities I would not be surprised to see him return to Russia.

And so concludes my look at the Leafs' 2015 draft picks! I hope you've found these posts entertaining and/or informative. I may revisit the subject in some capacity in the offseason, so let me know if there's anything in particular you'd like me to touch on.

Thanks for reading!

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