The Edmonton Oilers were eliminated in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Vegas Golden Knights in what many fans called a heartbreaking loss after their high hopes for the team coming into the season. After taking out the Los Angeles Kings in the first round for the second season in a row, things were looking positive for the Oilers with all the little things going right, it just didn’t work out for them in the end.
One of the biggest surprises this season was forward Klim Kostin playing a more significant role than he’s ever played in the past. He was able to bring a physical, power-forward game that had some scoring attached to it.
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For a bigger guy like Kostin, the expectation was he’d come in and play like a bottom-six guy. He established himself as an NHL mainstay early after his callup from the Bakersfield Condors and hasn’t left since. Aside from becoming a fan favorite during the regular season, Kostin showed up big time during the playoffs.
The Trade & the Regular Season
The Oilers went out at the beginning of the season and made a trade with the St. Louis Blues, trading defenseman Dmitri Samorukov in exchange for Kostin. This seemed to be a deal where both teams knew they were swapping prospects that needed fresh starts, but the Oilers have won this trade in every way, shape, and form.
Samorukov only played two games with the Blues this season, spending the majority of his time in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Springfield Thunderbirds where he played well, but not at the level the Blues needed in order to call him up. Kostin on the other hand was given an opportunity early in the season after starting the year in the AHL following the injury to Evander Kane, and he made the most of it.
After nine games, two goals and two assists with the Condors, Kostin proceeded to play 57 games with the Oilers during the regular season. He scored 11 goals and added 10 assists for 21 points, which was a career-high compared to last season where he only had nine. He added 66 penalty minutes this season as well, which attests to the physical aspect he brought to the lineup right away.
The Playoffs/Kostin’s Contract
This season was the most ice time Kostin has seen in his short NHL career, and this was the first time he’d seen time during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and he showed up big time. In the 12 games the Oilers played, he scored three goals and added two assists for five points. He played with less ice time than a majority of Oilers forwards and still was able to make significant offensive contributions in a limited role, and tied for eighth in team playoff scoring.
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Kostin finished the season as the team’s most improved and most surprising player. He exceeded everyone’s expectations and has earned himself a new contract with the Oilers. They will likely bring him back on a budget-friendly deal, as his contract has expired and he is currently a restricted free agent.
What’s Next For Kostin?
The next step for Kostin is putting pen to paper on a new contract. He wants to play in Edmonton, the fans love him, and he’ll return for the right price. He plays the role the team needs him to play, and as a youngster, he has lots of room to improve and break out as a potential top-nine forward that can produce a solid amount of depth offensive production.
I can see the Oilers and Kostin agreeing to a two-three year deal worth $925,000-$1 million. He’s a solid player that deserves a raise but should be willing to take a bit less money to remain an Oiler for a while. With the cap crunch the team will have this offseason, a cheap returnee like Kostin will be one of the key moves the Oilers try to make happen early.
I’d be doing everything in my power to bring Kostin back. He’s loved by his teammates and does everything right that he needs to. He’s a personal favorite of mine as well, but there’s no denying he’ll be a huge part of the team’s depth as they pursue another Stanley Cup run next season.