The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Mile High Hockey staff. Eight writers have ranked players under the age of 25 as of August 1, 2022 in the Colorado Avalanche organization. Each participant used their own metric of value to rank each player. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked.
The Avalanche selected Nikolai Kovalenko, the son of former Avalanche/Nordique Andrei Kovalenko, with the 171st selection in the 2018 NHL Draft. He has since played three seasons in the KHL for two different teams. This intriguing young prospect has found success overseas despite his smaller frame and inexperience. The KHL isn’t a slouch league and is ripe with more experienced players. His production in Russia could earn him a shot in the Majors.
#Avs sixth-round pick Nikolai Kovalenko is the son of former Nordique/Av F Andrei Kovalenko, who was traded to Montreal in the Patrick Roy deal in 1995.— Mike Chambers (@MikeChambers) June 23, 2018
Signing an NHL contract is always a bit more complicated when the player is of Russian decent. Typically the KHL and others will do their best to keep Russian talent in Russia. The current state of affairs in Russia does have the potential to complicate signing a player like Kovalenko. That being said, If the Avalanche want to get him signed, I trust they have the moxie to get it done no matter the obstacles as they have had success getting Russians inked with Danil Zhuravlyov the most recent example.
Kovalenko might want a bit more cheddar than the KHL will provide him at this rate; if that is the case, we could see his emergence in the Avalanche system at some point. He doesn’t strike me as the type of talent that could be immediately slotted into the lineup in Colorado, but with some time in the AHL I think he has the potential to develop into a sturdy and dependable middle-six forward.
He could play in Russia, fulfill his KHL contract again this season, and still be signed by the Avalanche some point in the future. If so, he will play for his third KHL squad in as many seasons since he was traded by AK Bars to Torpedo for cash three months ago and subsequently reportedly signed a two-year extension.
Torpedo has acquired 22-year-old forward Nikolai Kovalenko.— KHL (@khl_eng) May 26, 2022
6-8—14 Pts in 29 GP (0.48 P/GP), 16:44 TOI pic.twitter.com/LHTVZQ0YF7
The thing about Russian prospects is you never really know where they stand in the eyes of the organization. Especially one as tight-lipped as the Colorado Avalanche. I doubt they waste a prospect like Kovalenko. Hopefully, he comes to North America soon, so we can appropriately assess his talent.
Where do you think Kovalenko will play this season? Let us know in the comments!
2022 Top 25 Under 25
#20 Trent Miner
#21: Keaton Middleton
#21: Wyatt Aamodt
#23: Taylor Makar
#24: Nathan Clurman
#25: Ivan Zhigalov