October 27, 2021

The Queens County Citizen

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Jesperi Cotkonimi: Slow evolution

Jesperi Cotkonimi: Slow evolution

There are predictions, but there is also reality. Since the day he drafted in 2018, Jesperi Cotkonimi has embodied the future in Montreal. It has been described as the first center of the future for Canadian moons.

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The third overall selection at the draft usually brings a lot of dreams and hopes. The same is true in the case of Kotkanemi.

It’s the same story with Alex Galchenyuk, the third pick in the 2012 session. Before you can see if the bud will turn into a beautiful flower, time and patience are required. And sometimes the predictions turn out to be as illusory as Galchenuk’s.

At the age of 20, it was many years before Kotkani to establish himself as a good center in the NHL. CH still imagines him as the central part of the team’s future in a center position with Nick Suzuki.

We must always be careful in evaluating the potential of a young player. But in his third season in the NHL, Finn has yet to leave, especially with just 20 points (5 goals, 15 assists) in 48 games.

“Even though it’s his third season, we must not forget that he remains a young player, Dominic Ducharm recalls. We will see progress in his game this year. He gets into fights, and you’ll see it in a match. If he’s engaged, he has more room to take more puck and shots. This way he is successful. He should be able to repeat night after night. “

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Psychological challenge

Like Hobbs, Kotkanimi has been hitting the wall for weeks. He has not scored in his last 16 meetings, getting just four assists.

“Yes, it’s difficult, the number 15 has been identified. The big thing for me is winning games. Mentally, playing too often is also a challenge. We play a game every day for many days. I need to find solutions to be better and to be successful. “

In short-term solutions, the change of position is obvious. Kotkanimi is expected to play on the wing for the third time this season. On April 7 and 8, Brendan Gallagher received a two-match audition on the right wing.
Philip Donald and Thomas Tatar.

This time, he appears on the left, along with Donald and Josh Anderson. It was one of four new lines created by Ducharm during a game with the Winnipeg Jets at the Bell Center.

Despite drafting his strength in the center position, Kotkanemi has nothing against the idea of ​​a temporary change.

“I want to use my shot more. When I play on the wing, I feel like I have more time to take shots and create guilt, ”he replied. In the middle, there are more defensive responsibilities. I try to provoke things. ”

Eternal faith

Ducharm spoke about the sustainability challenge for a young man like Kotkanimi. It has been said hundreds of times that he was very young at 20 years old. And that is true. But the big stars in the NHL found ways to produce at a young age. Hobbs is a good example inside the locker room.

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Following goalkeeper Mark-Andre Fleury in 2003, Eric Stall quickly rose to the level of an elite player with a second overall pick. In his third pro season, Stall hit the magical 100-point plateau (45 goals, 55 assists) with the Carolina Hurricanes.

During that 2005-06 campaign, Stall turned 21 in October and played 77 games for Lowell in the American League due to the NHL lockout. Developmentally, it is not like Kotkani.

“It’s so easy today to say that playing at AHL is a good thing for me,” Stall said. But we can’t really say, there isn’t a season in the NHL. At the time, it was good for me. I played big minutes in the American League, and I had a role like in Junior. I gained confidence when I returned to Carolina. For the young player, the speed and details of the game can make a difference. It is important to be effective in all areas. You need to earn the trust of the coaches. And when you get there, you get more game time and can use it to create and score your talent if you are a scorer. In his third season in Carolina, Stall played an average of about 20 minutes (19:39), while Kotkanemi 15 minutes (14:56). But without taking anything away from Kotkanimi, Stall had more raw talent at the same age.