On Wednesday (Nov. 9) the Edmonton Oilers recalled forwards Mattias Janmark and Klim Kostin from their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Bakersfield Condors. The moves come after winger Evander Kane was placed on long-term injured reserve (LTIR).
Kane is expected to be out three to four months following surgery on his left wrist, which was cut by a skate blade during the Oilers’ 3-2 road victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday (Nov. 8). Janmark and Kostin could make their debuts as early as Thursday (Nov. 10) when Edmonton takes on the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, N.C.
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While Janmark (158 points in 420 games over parts of six seasons with the Dallas Stars, Chicago Blackhawks, and Vegas Golden Knights) has more NHL experience than Kostin (11 points in 46 games over parts of three seasons with the St. Louis Blues), it’s the latter who has Oil Country most intrigued.
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Turning 30 in less than a month, Janmark is who he is: a journeyman bottom-six role player and, at almost 30 years old, he’s not going to suddenly wake up an All-Star. His best days are almost certainly behind and not ahead of him. That’s not the case with Kostin. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Russian center is just 23 and it wasn’t that long ago he was deemed worthy of a first-round draft pick, selected 31st overall by the Blues in 2017.
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Edmonton acquired Kostin from St. Louis on Oct. 9 in exchange for defenseman Dmitri Samorukov. Here are three other things to know about the journey of one of the newest Oilers.
Kostin Was CHL First Overall Pick
The Kootenay Ice selected Kostin first overall in the 2016 Canadian Hockey League Draft (a fun bit of trivia: Samorukov was the second overall pick, by the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League), though he chose not to report to the Western Hockey League club, electing to remain in his home country for the season prior to his NHL Draft year. He had stints in the Junior Hockey League (MHL), Supreme Hockey League (VHL), and the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) with Moscow Dynamo, before his 2016-17 campaign was cut short by shoulder surgery.
Kostin is one of two players currently under contract to the Oilers that is a former CHL Import Draft first overall selection. The other is Matvey Petrov, who was picked at No. 1 by the OHL’s North Bay Battalion in 2020. Petrov was selected by the Oilers in the sixth round of the 2021 NHL Draft and is now in his second season with the Battalion.
Kostin Had High NHL Draft Stock
Kostin’s stock plummeted in the wake of his shoulder injury. He was originally projected to come off the board much sooner than when he was ultimately selected by St. Louis, with the last pick of Round 1. He was slotted as high as 10th in the TSN mid-season draft ranking by the widely respected Bob McKenzie, but he slid to No. 18 in McKenzie’s final TSN ranking.
When the Blues snagged him at No. 31, there was a belief Kostin would prove to be a steal. After all, as detailed in The Hockey Writer’s 2017 NHL Draft prospect profile of Kostin, the left-shot forward possesses size and strength, is an excellent skater, and has great hands. He even drew comparisons to Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.
Edmonton actually had a chance to draft Kostin with the 22nd pick in 2017, but chose Kailer Yamamoto, who on Thursday will play his 200th career regular season game with the Oilers.
Kostin Has Championship Experience
The Penza native has a medal haul from representing Russia at several international championship events, including the U17 World Hockey Challenge (silver in 2015), Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament (bronze in 2016), and World Junior Championship (bronze in 2019). While the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the start of the 2020-21 hockey season in North America, Kostin returned to the KHL where he helped Avangard Omsk capture the Gagarin Cup, before rejoining the Blues. Last season he was part of the Springfield Thunderbirds’ run to the Calder Cup Final, notching eight points in 18 AHL playoff games.
In nine games this season with the Condors, Kostin has recorded two goals and a pair of assists. He’s also fourth on the team with 17 shots on goal. There are other forwards in Bakersfield with more experience, better stats, or who are simply higher-rated prospects, so for Kostin to be recalled says something about the Oilers’ belief that he still has untapped potential.
Kostin’s Oilers debut will be his first NHL action since March 6, 2022, when he played in the Blues’ overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils in Newark. It’s a new beginning for him, but the time for Kostin to perform is now.