Prospect Weekly: Nikolai Kovalenko is Red Hot

Nikolai Kovalenko has been a mainstay with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in the KHL for a couple seasons now. This Colorado Avalanche prospect’s brand of tenacity and opportunistic scoring is well-suited to a third line type of role as he builds on a five goal effort from his rookie season. This year has gone well for Kovalenko as he surpassed his rookie totals a couple weeks ago and still plays that signature game that defines him so well. However in the last four contests Kovalenko has kicked his game up a level and is filling the score sheet in the process.

First up Kovalenko scored his fourth goal of the season on a quick wrist shot and release in a 5-1 win over Salavat Ufa which earned him third star of the game for his efforts.

After a one game hiatus on the scoresheet Kovalenko scored an insurance marker in a 5-2 victory against Sochi on a rush and then move to cut into the middle of the ice before firing a laser. This is the game where Kovalenko was in the starting lineup on the top line and saw a bump in his usual ice time to over 15 minutes. Kovalenko was clearly feeling confident as he put six shots on goal as well.

Kovalenko was just getting started as he put in a first star type of game the following contest in a 3-2 win over Jokerit. First getting Lokomotiv on the board with his signature tenacity and no-quit on the puck until it was in the back of the net.

Then Kovalenko opened up the skill on his second tally by stealing the puck and then unleashing his shot for his fourth goal in as many games.

Finally Kovalenko converted in the shootout to help seal the victory. Through his career Kovalenko has been very good in shootouts and was used by coaches in big moments despite his young age. His quick hands in tight help him convert these types of scores.

This game was another where Kovalenko pumped six shots on goal and saw his time on ice increase even more to over 16 minutes. He is now tied for sixth in team scoring with 10 points and is fourth in goals with seven. At this rate Kovalenko will continue to grow his game and be ready to grab a spot on the NHL roster with the Avalanche after his contract in the KHL expires following the 2020-21 season.

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Credit @HCLokomotiv for the photo

queenjk

Aka tigervixxxen, prospect junkie.

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