Adam Boqvist was drafted by the London Knights in the 2017 Import Draft but he was also drafted in the 1st round of the 2018 NHL draft by the Chicago Blackhawks. Due to a certain OHL import rule exception, that enabled London to take a 3rd Import this season if they did indeed choose to do so. After selecting Matvei Guskov with their 1st rd pick in the Import draft they took advantage of that rule and also selected Vladislav Kolyachonok in the 2nd. At the time, it was uncertain if he would even sign since it was reported Boqvist would himself sign with the Knights but once the dust settled Kolyachonok was in fact in London when training camp opened and boy did he look good.
#7 Kolyachonok vs. Sarnia (Photo courtesy OilKnight.ca)
Kolyachonok is a complete defenceman in that he has great offensive instincts but is also extremely stout defensively. He has terrific speed and agility, moves the puck extremely well, and plays such a smart & poised game that it’s hard not to imagine NHL clubs falling in love with his skill set by June.
I was in attendance for Knights training camp and witnessed his first scrimmage in the Green & Gold and honestly I was blown away. He scored a highlight reel goal where he attacked the defence with great speed, curl and dragged then scored bar down from his back hand. It was an incredible goal but frankly he was just as dynamic all game. He made a tremendous play defensively too where he broke up a 2 on 1 with great positioning and anticipation.
Watch #4 in White here:
So, while Adam Boqvist was all the talk going into camp I thought Kolyachonok stole the show. I’m not sure exactly how many shifts he had that game but it’s not a stretch to say he made something happen on every one of them. Offensively, he was a force taking the puck hard to the net and challenging defenders with his terrific speed & stickhandling ability. Defensively, attackers had no chance against him as he completely shut them down 1 on 1 and excelled at transitioning from defence to offence. His talent was obvious to myself and everyone around me who were all raving about his play. It was only rookie camp however so how would he fair once he got into real game action? Let’s take a look:
Here’s a detailed breakdown of his game in an exhibition match vs. Erie:
I have been doing a lot of independent scouting the last couple years and have hit some home runs by identifying 1st round pick talent early in the draft season. Last year, I was all over Vitali Kravtsov as a Top 10 pick in January. I loved Ty Dellandrea all season and Robert Thomas & Conor Timmins were two sleepers I wouldn’t shut up about the year before. It’s real early in the 2018 season but Vladislav Kolyachonok is a sure-fire 1st round talent in my eyes. He’s the best defenceman defensively I’ve seen in many years in London and his offensive flair is tantalizing. Here’s a more complete breakdown of his strengths and weaknesses as I see it right now:
- Speed, agility, edge work
- Poise, hockey sense, great decision maker, head always on a swivel
- Great offensive instincts; excels at rushing with the puck, pinching in from the point
- Defensively astute; great job taking away time and space, great positioning & anticipation on 2 on 1’s
- Excellent passer, head always up
- Active stick, breaks up a lot of passes
- Needs to get stronger physically though does play with an edge currently
- His slapshot is good not great yet
- His active stick has led to a couple of tripping penalties
Now, it’s important to note that if and when Adam Boqvist is returned to London, the Knights have 2 weeks to trade one of their 3 Imports (Boqvist, Guskov or Kolyachonok) with the Belarusian defenceman the most likeliest one to move. As a Knights fan, that will be a disappointing outcome but should bring some more offensive firepower back in a trade. As a NHL draft fan, it should be a great opportunity for Kolyachonok to breakout somewhere else and solidify his draft stock as a 1st round pick. Regardless of what happens I will be following this kid all season and look forward to see how much his game develops over the course of the year. The sky’s the limit for VK who is truly flying under the radar at the moment.
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