It’s fairly uncommon for the Calgary Flames to draft high school players. European players tend to go directly into the club development systems, while higher end North Americans usually end up in the Canadian Hockey League or the United States Hockey League by the time they’re in their draft year.
There are exceptions to every rule, though, and Demetrios Koumontzis could become one of them. The second 2018 draftee on this year’s top 20 list is a Greek kid from a big family, and he’s already had to push through adversity and make some big choices in his young hockey career.
How did we get here?
The fifth of six brothers, all who played hockey as youngsters, Koumontzis fell in love with the game. Since then, he’s seemingly been chasing opportunities and they’ve taken him all over the place.
Koumontzis detailed his many, many travels when we spoke with him at development camp.
“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.”
Three years ago, Koumontzis was one of the top scorers in the southwest United States’ T1EHL under-16 league with the Phoenix Jr. Coyotes. But two years ago he suffered an injury which dramatically cut back on his games. Faced with some interesting decisions regarding his future – some Jr. Coyotes teammates went to their under-18 team and he had been drafted by the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers – he headed back to the State of Hockey to get some reps.
He ended up playing a lot of hockey and was a key player for his club, which potentially allowed him to catch up on lost time.
Stats, numbers, and everything therein
Koumontzis played on two teams last season: Edina High School and Team Northeast, in the Upper Midwest Elite regional high school super-league.
|24||20||21||41||Minnesota State HS|
|21||16||33||49||Regional Elite HS|
If the idea of playing high school hockey was to get his swagger back after missing a big chunk of time due to his past injury, it worked. Playing on his high school team he was over a point-per-game and was fourth in team scoring. Playing on the regional team with some of the best players from other Minnesota high schools, he was even better – and actually led that league in scoring.
Check out Christian Tiberi’s breakdown of Koumontzis’ game here.
Those in the know
John Sherman, sports editor at Edina’s local paper, the Edina Sun Current, shared some thoughts with us regarding Koumontzis’ play last season:
The most impressive thing to me was that Demetrios could play either wing or center and not lose any of his efficiency. His shot, speed and hockey IQ made him one of the best players in the Lake Conference and Section 6AA.
Flames director of development Ray Edwards praised Koumontzis’ mature, goal-oriented nature and his attention to detail in terms of his ability to improve his game:
You go through some of the things he had to go through, sometimes you fly under the radar a little bit. I give our guys a lot of credit, our scouting group with Jimmy [Cummins], Mike Craig and those guys. They really like this kid and spoke really highly of him, thought if we could get him where we got him we’d be getting a steal… This kid is very mature for his age… He’s a guy that has a plan, he knows what he wants, and he’s very committed to getting better.
On the horizon
Rather than head to a big-time school for college, Koumontzis made an interesting choice and opted to head to the desert to join the Arizona State Sun Devils. The Sun Devils are in just their third year of existence, aren’t in any conference and only have one drafted player (their goalie) on their roster.
In other words, it’s potentially an opportunity for Koumontzis to establish himself as a strong college player on a team that really needs somebody to take charge. The Sun Devils have a pretty stacked calendar ahead of them, with dates on their schedule against seven of the 16 teams that played in the Frozen Four tournament last spring. They’ll face some stiff tests and if Koumontzis can become a key player for them this season, his stock may be on the rise. For now, though, he’s an untested (if talented) high school player whose allure lies in his potential.
|#20 – Martin Pospisil|