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Learning about 2018 NHL Draft prospects: Volume 3

The draft will be here before we know it; let’s know some guys!

Chicoutimi Sagueneens v Quebec Remparts Photo by Mathieu Belanger/Getty Images

With the 2018 NHL Entry Draft just a few weeks away, General Manager Ron Hextall and the Philadelphia Flyers could be adding up to nine prospects to the organization. There’s already a lot out there on those who are expected to be drafted in the top 31 to 62, but what about the guys who are supposed to go anywhere from 63rd to undrafted? In a series of articles before the draft, I’m going to try and analyze both the well-known prospects and some of the lesser-known prospects who aren’t expected to go relatively high next month. Let’s know some guys.

Vladislav Kotkov
A teammate of German Rubtsov earlier this season, Vladislav Kotkov brings both a big name and a big body to the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. The Moscow, Russia native that weighs in at 6’4”, 203 pounds posted 21 goals and 28 helpers for 49 points in 61 games this season for the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in the QMJHL.

His inability to post amazing numbers in the Q this season most likely led to Kotkov dropping from 74th to 81st between Central Scouting’s mid-term and final rankings. His 5-on-5 numbers aren’t exactly noteworthy either. Of the 110 QMJHL forwards who played in 61 games or more this season, Kotkov is 52nd with 28 5-on-5 points and 29th with 131 shots at 5-on-5. Also at 5-on-5, Kotkov is tied for 43rd with three high-danger goals and tied for 74th with 9 high-danger shots.

Although he didn’t post eye-popping totals this season, Kotkov has put up numbers in the past to showcase his offensive upside. The best example of this was in 2015-16, when he produced 26 goals and 33 assists for 59 points in 33 games for the CKSA Moscow U-16 team.

Kotkov is a player that has the desirable combination of size and speed. With an ability to start a play or finish one of his teammate’s, Kotkov is hard to defend for numerous reasons. Anticipated to be taken in this year’s draft, Aaron Vickers of Future Considerations summed up the Sagueneen’s skills back in July of 2017:

“Kotkov is a big, powerful, offensive-minded winger. Despite his immense size, he shows good mobility when carrying the puck and the ability to get up and down the ice. He has powerful strides, which he uses to hit top speed quickly. He’s hard to defend along the boards because of his size, strength, mobility and reach. He uses his big frame and protects the puck nicely in the corner before going directly to the net for a chance to bury the puck. He has a dangerous shot with strong velocity and impressive release. He sets up in proper areas to unleash his wicked one-timer. He has the ability to make plays with the puck on his stick, and shows his instincts by delivering very quick passes. He makes a nice cross-ice saucer pass right on his teammates tape. He’s an intriguing talent because his diversified skills have seen him play both point and net front presence on the power play effectively. A threat to create every time he’s on the ice. Plays with an active stick, loving to clog up lanes using his long reach, and good hand eye coordination. A goal-scoring winger with top-six upside at the NHL level.”

DraftSite has Kotkov going in the second round of the 2018 draft, as they think he’ll be taken at 49.

Paul Cotter
Despite an unfavorable drop in his Central Scouting’s ranking, Paul Cotter is a forward with size that can produce. The 6’0”, 185-pound skater from Canton, Missouri dropped from 98th at the mid-term rankings to 112th in the final rankings.

After he had a goal on two shots in the USHL’s Top Prospects Game back in January, Cotter finished the season with 18 goals and 21 helpers for 39 points in 51 games for the Lincoln Stars. Compared to other forwards in the USHL, Cotter’s 13 goals was fifth among 30 USHL forwards who entered the season under 18 years old who played in at least 50 games this season and 27th among all 141 forwards who played in at least 51 games. Among the same groups, his 28 points put him sixth and 34th respectively. On top of the points, Cotter also reduced his time in the penalty box, as he only had 64 PIMs this year after he sat in the sin bin for 103 minutes last season for the Brookings Blizzard in the NAHL.

Cotter is intriguing pick in the later rounds because of his playmaking abilities and his shot, as illustrated by The Draft Analyst’s Steve Kournianos:

“Crafty playmaking forward with the ability to finish who always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Cotter, who is committed to Western Michigan University, was one of the top scorers in the NAHL before earning his way onto Lincoln’s deep lineup. He is a strong finisher around the net and develops quick chemistry with whomever his linemates are. There was an expectation that he would be more of a two-way depth player during his transition to a superior league, but Cotter has developed into a scoring threat thanks to his deadly shot/release combo and very good straight-line speed. You never have to worry about him failing to show up — he battles hard and competes from whistle to whistle, plus can create problems during the forecheck.”

These highlights back up Kournianos’ breakdown. Cotter also showcases amazing hands threw out the video, as you can see on any of his shootout attempts or play at 4:35.

Cotter will join Western Michigan University for the 2019-20 season. He’s the 98th pick in DraftSite’s most recent mock draft.