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OHL Top 10: Vladislav Kolyachonok

Vladislav Kolyachonok, the ‘01 born Belarusian defender hails from Minsk, Belarus. In his Ontario Hockey League rookie campaign, he has found himself among the top eligible prospects heading into the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.

The six-foot-two rearguard was the second-round selection of the London Knights in the 2018 CHL Import draft. Kolyachonok the left-handed shot defender ultimately suited up in one game for the Knights and tallied an assist in his only game before being placed on waivers, once on waivers he was claimed soon after by the Flint Firebirds.

Flint allowed the NHL hopeful Kolyachonok a place to play and display his talents, However, to gain a true understanding of where Vladislav Kolyachonok began gaining interest from teams, we must take a look at where the young defenseman emerged as such a notable prospect

In 2016 – 2017 Kolyachonok was back home and playing for his country, a member of the Belarus U17 Midget team in the Belarus 2 league, he tallied 10 points in 32 games before he was promoted to the U18 team. His sophomore season with the Belarus Midget team turned out to be short as he only played two games, once he rejoined the U18 team he emerged as a crucial member of the team’s defensive group. Vladislav appeared in 43 games for the U18 squad tallying 5 goals and 15 assists in 2017-2018.

Coming off an outstanding season Vladislav was selected to play in the U18 World Junior Championship. He was named one of the top three players for team Belarus after totaling a goal and an assist in five games. The young Belarus born defender put himself on the radar of all the OHL scouts.

That brings us to where Vladislav was waived by London and claimed by the Flint Firebirds who were extremely pleased to welcome the skilled NHL Prospect into their locker room. The former Knights import selection now a member of a Flint Firebirds organization that struggled to begin 2018-2019 and they were never able to gain traction in the OHL standings. The talented skating Vladislav Kolyachonok managed to impress many despite the losses that piled up rapidly in Flint, he still found ways to produce while adjusting to a new style of play than what he was custom to in Belarus.

Vladislav Kolyachonok of the Flint Firebirds Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images

Vladislav Kolyachonok is a two-way defenseman with impeccable speed and great instincts in the offensive end, Kolyachonok reads the game extremely well, he utilizes his skating and agility to advance the puck, for a rookie he plays with extreme confidence. He possesses all the wanted attributes and skills that would allow the young D-man to become an effective NHL defenseman in the future.

The Firebirds d-man is the 22nd ranked North American skater heading into the 2019 NHL entry draft. The OHL freshman contains all the intangibles and with plenty of growth still ahead. Adding to his resume in his first season playing in the OHL, Kolyachonok was selected to play in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects game. This game is 2 teams comprised with the top 40 NHL eligible prospects currently playing in the CHL. These NHL hopefuls have a chance to showcase their skills in one game for all the NHL scouts.

The skilled defensive specialist like many players has some room for improvement as he progresses with his development. An area that scouts have pinpointed is the lack of physicality from the young defenceman. Vladislav relies on his skating and instincts to maintain defensive positioning, usually using a stick-check to retrieve the puck from an opposing player, rarely will you see him throw a body-check to dislodge a player off the puck. Kolyachonok will need to develop a physical edge in his game when transitioning to the next level in order to be effective.

The only other fault against Vladislav Kolyachonok would be his overall positioning as he tends to over-commit while trying to create offense. He wants to contribute when his team’s in the offensive zone but, his confidence can lead him into areas where he is unable to recover. This may be an easy fix for most development coaches in the pro levels of hockey and it’s likely that is corrected soon after he joins a rookie camp if drafted in the off-season.

A top eligible prospect with room to improve as the off-season nears. Rapidly approaching is the 2019 NHL Entry draft, expect to see Vladislav Kolyachonok taken off the draft board early.