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Why it’s time to turn Klim Kostin loose in St. Louis

Let’s see what the guy has in store...

NHL: Preseason-St. Louis Blues at Winnipeg Jets James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

The minute Pat Maroon made a decision and officially signed with Tampa, the first thought that came to my head was simple: does this mean the St. Louis Blues will give Klim Kostin a shot?

Ever since the Blues purchased that draft slot from Pittsburgh in exchange for Ryan Reaves, selecting Kostin two years ago with the 31st overall pick, there’s been white knuckle anticipation for his NHL debut. Some say he fell down to that spot due to injury, and other doubted other aspects of his game. Did the Blues benefit from taking him, or were they making a bold choice?

The Penza, Russia native is just 20 years old, but that’s never stopped the Blues or another NHL team from throwing youth to the wolves early. If it is true that the Blues are slowly getting younger and faster, giving a spot to Kostin could be a worthy endeavor. The good thing is he gives you everything: size, speed, and initiative on the ice. He’s 6’3’’ and 212 pounds, someone who can put on the burners and get past you, or just go through you.

According to Future Considerations, Kostin can take a few defenders to the net with him, or use a deke to lose them on the way. Hockey Prospects will tell you he is a smooth skater with a deep knee bend that allows him to take less strides than the average player. Add it all together and you have a potentially explosive talent who needs a job in the NHL.

He’s also potentially combustible. After scoring 28 points in 67 games during the 2017-18 season with the San Antonio Rampage, Kostin scored just 24 points in 64 games the next year. He’s accumulated 174 penalty minutes and a +/- rating of -34 in his two seasons down south. One could say he was consistent while others could ask for a rise in productivity.

I don’t think one should expect a Robert Thomas/Jordan Kyrou type point explosion with this kid, at least not right off the bat. He may not be built that way. In the end, he could just be a tough guy with speed and a GPS that heads to the net. If you’ve missed the videos, he’s also got a mean streak that doesn’t shy away from a fight or a hit. He’ll get his hands dirty, and may rack up plenty of Gordie Howe hat tricks during his time in the NHL.

He could be a star or a flop. Perhaps he’s a solid player. What I’m saying is the time to find out should be soon. Take a look. There’s a lot of guys competing for the open spots on the Blues’ line arrangements. Just don’t count out Kostin. He’s what a hockey team can never have enough of, and that’s mean, unfiltered ability. He has skill and will to spare.

Kostin plays the wing and center, but could find his home taking up some of Maroon’s minutes. After all, it was Kostin who got his first goal of the preseason against Dallas off a certain goaltender named Ben Bishop. The last goal Bishop let in was Maroon’s game-winning tip in during the second overtime of the Western Conference semifinals. As Laura pointed out this week, only a handful of other young players got more playing time than Kostin, who ripped a one-timer past Bishop.

I’m not saying build a damn statue. I’m saying try the kid out and see if he is ready. You may get a Maroon-type with more speed, just as much ruthlessness, and the finish at a fraction of the cost.

There’s room to grow with Kostin, but if the hype is legit, he’s someone who should spend time in the NHL real soon. An exciting combination of talent that could score a goal, knock a few players on their ass, and perhaps blow a kiss on the way back to the bench.

The Blues can always use more of that in their youth movement.