At the 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas, the Calgary Flames did something they’ve only done four times in the past decade: they drafted a player out of high school. In this case, the Flames selected Minnesota high schooler Demetrious Koumontzis from Edina with one of their three fourth round selections.
Koumontzis comes from a unique background, and has a unique path ahead of him as he aspires towards pro hockey and the NHL.
Koumontzis is a kid from a big Greek family, the fifth of six children (all boys) that all played hockey growing up. Like the other three high schoolers the Flames selected, Koumontzis is headed to college now that he’s been drafted. Unlike Mark Jankowski (Providence College), Tim Harrison (Colgate) and Mitchell Mattson (Michigan State), Koumontzis isn’t headed to a traditional hockey school.
Instead, the 18-year-old is headed to a different collegiate spot: he’s joining the Arizona State University Sun Devils. The unconventional choice is both a product of his rather windy path towards the NHL Draft, and a calculated bet on his chances in a very new hockey program.
“I was born in Pittsburgh,” said Koumontzis in between sessions at Flames development camp. “Then I moved down to Arizona and grew up there for about nine, ten years, and then decided to move up to Minnesota to develop more for hockey. Played there throughout my youth years with Edina. Then went back to Arizona to play a year of AAA and then suffered an injury. And then for my senior year came back to Edina, and now I’m going back to Arizona for college.”
The Sun Devils are entering their third year in the NCAA’s Division I, where they’re still an independent program without a home conference. The nature of the program represents a potential opportunity for Koumontzis, as they only have one NHL-drafted player in goaltender Joey Daccord (a 2015 pick by the Ottawa Senators).
“That new program kinda hit me and I fell in love with it, so I’m really excited to get down there and help build it to what I think it can be,” said Koumontzis, noting his excitement about the opportunity for a big role. “Obviously nothing’s guaranteed but you’ve gotta work for everything, but that’s the hope. Get there, be kinda a role player right away and developed that way and I think that can help me.”
Koumontzis is still a bit of a project, but there’s some reason for optimism. He was his team’s leading scorer in 2015-16 and only had his progression derailed by an injury. He’s headed to a program that went 8-21-5 last year and will be desperate to lean on any players that show offensive prowess. If Koumontzis can get his offense going early, he could be in for a big year (or two) with the Sun Devils.
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