In this week’s edition of the Arizona Coyotes 2021-22 offseason player reviews, we’ll take a look at rookie defenseman Vladislav Kolyachonok. After he was acquired during the offseason from the Florida Panthers along with defenseman Anton Strålman, the Belarusian suited up for 32 games with the Coyotes during his rookie season, along with 33 American Hockey League (AHL) games with Tucson, the team’s affiliate.
After a solid start with the Roadrunners this past season, Kolyachonok earned himself a shot with the Coyotes in a small sample of positives and negatives. While he didn’t impress many, he showed glimpses of becoming a promising defensive prospect down the line with more development.
Kolyachonok’s Season in Review
Kolyachonok’s season was nothing spectacular. As an NHL rookie, he played just 32 games, with one goal and two assists while adding six penalty minutes and an even plus/minus rating. In addition to battling injuries, he bounced in and out of the lineup as a healthy scratch, earning most of his playing time late in the season.
Despite playing only a minor role on a Coyotes team full of veterans and youth, Kolyachonok showed flashes of his skill and physicality while showcasing his ability to be a stable top-six defenseman as the team continues their rebuild. He also blocked 36 shots while taking command and sticking up for his teammates, dishing out 39 punishing hits. Furthermore, while he has yet to fully develop into an offensive contributor, he has shown a lot of promise in that area.
What Kolyachinok Can Improve On, Build Off Of
I expect Kolychonok to begin the 2022-23 season in the AHL to develop more since the team already has 11 defensemen signed, and he has areas to work on, especially if he’s looking to take the next step in his game. He still struggles to keep the puck on his stick, turning it over a whopping 29 times in just 32 games last season. He was also inconsistent in his own zone and with his positioning.
Despite the expected struggles for a rookie called up mid-way through the season on a struggling, rebuilding team, Kolyachonok played as well as he could and showed himself to be a huge physical threat who will only get better with more conditioning. Regularly putting his body on the line, he also displayed flashes of former Coyotes shot-blocking extraordinaire Niklas Hjalmarsson, showcasing his speed, agility, and poise under pressure. While he wasn’t great in his rookie campaign, he still has a lot of room to grow.
Kolyachonok’s Next Move
Going forward, general manager Bill Armstrong will have to decide what to do with Kolyachinok. He needs time to work on his game and develop properly, and it would be in the team’s best interest to send him back to Tucson, especially given the number of defensemen already slated to play significant time for the Coyotes in 2022-23. He’s only 21 years old, so spending a season with the Roadrunners will be best for his development.
The Coyotes are only going to get younger, and Kolyachonok has a chance to be a role player for the team in the future. He knows the struggles that lie ahead for him, too. “You’re always working as hard as possible to be ready for this chance. Trying to give 100 percent on the ice, off the ice” (from ‘Vladislav Kolyachonok hopes to build off first NHL stint in return to Coyotes,’ AZCentral, Feb. 2022). The team knows what he’s capable of and the future should be bright for Kolyachonok as he attempts to carve out a full-time role in the NHL.
What do you think of Kolyachonok? Let us know in the comments section below. Next week is defenseman Conor Timmins.
Mr. Evans is originally from Greenville, SC where he currently resides. Mr. Evans has been involved in hockey for the past 18 years now, following the Arizona Coyotes and St. Louis Blues. During his free time, Mr. Evans enjoys spending time with his family and girlfriend as well as being up in the mountains or taking pictures. Prior to joining The Hockey Writers, Mr. Evans previously worked for The Puck Authority, covering the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL and FanSided’s Bleedin’ Blue, covering the St. Louis Blues. You can find Mr. Evans on Twitter at @HaynesPEvans.