Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Key Post, Klim Kostin

Oilers Can Bolster Depth in Kostin Trade With Red Wings

The Edmonton Oilers started the 2023-24 campaign on the wrong foot and panic set in quickly. However, lately, the team has found their confidence and seems to be playing much more controlled hockey, while their leaders, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, seem to have found their game and are starting to dominate offensively again.

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Still, the team lacks depth at forward, and their bottom six haven’t produced nearly enough. With the Detroit Red Wings signing superstar forward Patrick Kane, they will have to move a forward, and that forward will likely be Klim Kostin. He has been in and out of their lineup all season as the fit just hasn’t worked. If the Oilers want to bolster their depth, reuniting with Kostin is a great option.

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The Oilers made a surprisingly-strong move in Oct. 2022 by trading prospect defenseman Dmitri Samorukov to the St. Louis Blues for Kostin in what was supposed to be a fresh start for two struggling players. Samorukov never panned out with the Blues and is now with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but Kostin made a huge difference on the Oilers and became a fan favourite.

Kostin’s Struggles With The Blues and The Trade

The Blues drafted Kostin in the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft at 31st overall after a strong showing in his home country of Russia split between the VHL, MHL, and Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). While he wasn’t an offensive powerhouse, he showcased his skills as a tall, two-way forward who could provide physicality and wasn’t scared to block shots on the penalty kill.

Klim Kostin St. Louis Blues
Klim Kostin, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Kostin battled through the American Hockey League (AHL) before the Blues decided to loan him back to the KHL’s Avangard Omsk during the 2020-21 season, where he scored seven goals and 18 points through 43 games and seemed to find his confidence as an offensive producer. The Blues were hoping he would come back and have a breakout season. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

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Kostin returned to North America the following season and was underwhelming. He split the season between the Blues and the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds. With the Thunderbirds, he scored three goals and six points through 17 games, and with the Blues, he scored four goals and nine points through 40 games.

He was traded to the Oilers in the 2021-22 season, and although he didn’t start the season with them, he earned his chance and didn’t waste it. After nine games with the Bakersfield Condors (two goals and two assists), Kostin joined the Oilers and scored a career-high 11 goals and 21 points through 57 games. He was a physical player who was never afraid to set the tone and drop the gloves.

Kostin Joins Red Wings, But The Fit Doesn’t Work

After Kostin and the Oilers couldn’t agree on a contract extension when he became a restricted free agent, he was traded to the Red Wings before the 2023-24 season. He was then signed by the Red Wings and was expected to provide grit — something they were missing. While he hasn’t been bad, his offensive output has dropped off and he isn’t a regular in the lineup. It will be no surprise if the Red Wings try to move him, and if they do, the Oilers should be all over it.

Klim Kostin Detroit Red Wings
Klim Kostin, Detroit Red Wings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Through 18 games this season, Kostin has scored one goal and recorded two points. I don’t expect them to want to send him to the AHL, but he may be the odd man out with Kane joining the roster. Kostin has been on the fourth line all season and even healthy scratched for a few games, making him the unfortunate outsider currently.

The Oilers’ main issues may stem from weak defending and goaltending, but adding a physical forward who exploded with them offensively last season would still be a huge benefit. No one will ever complain about the team attempting to add more depth scoring, which they’ve lacked heavily this season.

The Oilers may have started to turn their season around but they are surely still looking for upgrades. Kostin’s contract is worth $2 million per season and expires at the end of 2024-25. The Oilers can afford that, and it would be no surprise if they’d be willing to give up a struggling Ryan McLeod for Kostin, so both players can get a change of scenery.

The Oilers were expected to contend this season, and this move would bring them one step closer to their goal. Kostin was a perfect fit in Edmonton, and while it was unfortunate the two sides couldn’t get a new deal done before this season, they have a chance to make it work now. If Kostin becomes available, the Oilers should try to bring him in.

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