Kostin, Tolvanen headline CHL Import Draft

Aaron Vickers2017 Draft Center, IIHF, International Events

Klim Kostin has gotten a small sample of what the 2017 NHL Draft may be like in 12 months time.

The 6-foot-3, 185-pound right-winger was selected first overall in the CHL Import Draft by the Kootenay Ice.

Kostin, ranked 24th in Future Considerations’ preliminary ranking for the 2017 NHL Draft, scored eight goals and 21 points in 30 games with HK MVD Balashikha in the MHL in 2015-16. He also had 10 goals and 15 points in 10 games as an assistant captain while playing with Dynamo Moskva U17, and captained Russia at both the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and the 2017 World Under-18 Championship.

The 17-year-old is described as a big-bodied power winger with a strong work ethic who can dominate for stretches with his cycle game and puck-protection skills.

Kostin was one of four players projected to be first rounders in 2017 to be selected.

Eeli Tolvanen, ranked seventh, was selected 17th overall by the Oshawa Generals. Tolvanen played the 2015-16 season with the Sioux City Muskateers of the United States Hockey League, recording 17 goals and 38 points in 49 games. He also scored nine goals in five games at the World Under-17’s, and seven goals in seven games at the World Under-18’s.

Tolvanen plays with speed and intensity, is elusive with the puck on his stick, and has an impressive, accurate shot with a deadly release.

Urho Vaakanainen, ranked eighth, was selected 41st overall by the Windsor Spitfires. The Finnish defenseman had 11 assists and 13 points in 18 games with the Blues U20 club in Jr. A SM-liiga, and six points in 25 games with the Blues in Liiga.

Vaakanainen also represented Finland at both the 2016 World Under-17’s and the World Under-18’s.

Nico Hischier, ranked 20th, was drafted sixth overall by the Halifax Mooseheads. The forward had one goal in 15 games with Bern, and 11 goals and 28 points in 18 games Bern’s U20 championship team. With Bern’s U17 team in 2014-15, Hischier led the league in goals (28) and points (61).

He also represented Switzerland at the World Under-18’s and 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship, recording two assists in six games. He’s also played at the World Under-17’s, and Ivan Hlinka Memorial.

Left wing Kristian Vesalainen was selected in the second round, 68th overall by the Flint Firebirds. Vesalainen, ranked ninth, had 15 goals and 34 points in 37 games with Frolunda HC J20 in SuperElit, and two points in 19 games with Frolunda’s main club in the SHL.

Vesalainen had eight points in five games while representing Finland at the World Under-17’s and six points in seven games at the World Under-18’s.