Under Brad Treliving, the Flames have mostly ignored the college system in the draft. With the 25 picks before the 2018 draft, the Flames only selected college bound kids twice (Brandon Hickey and Mitchell Mattson).
This previous draft, they flipped the script and drafted three players who were* headed to college. The switch made sense. In the early Treliving years, the team was bare bones and leaned heavily on CHL talent to quickly ascend to the pros. Now past rebuilding, the Flames could afford to wait a while.
Demetrios Koumontzis was the second college player selected in the 2018 draft. Headed to the upstart Arizona State Sun Devils program, he looked to make a name for himself with a team that was trying to do the same.
How did it go?
*Martin Pospisil was committed to college but was ruled academically ineligible midway through the season
When we last checked in
Koumontzis was a bit of a mystery prospect, in the sense that there wasn’t much available to judge where he was going as a player. He was a stud in the Minnesota high school leagues, which is all well and good, but so are many others.
Heading to Arizona State would both clarify and compound this issue: it was NCAA hockey, but ASU was also a unicorn in their own regard. Prior to this season, ASU was entering their fourth year of hockey existence. They’re mostly a team made from whatever they could find on the recruiting scrap heap and had seen little success so far. It was feasible that Koumontzis would be an important player on the team, but how much meaning could we scrape from him being one of the best players on one of the worst teams?
Thankfully, we didn’t have to answer that question, as ASU was the biggest surprises in the NCAA, and Koumontzis was one of the biggest on the team.
Team wise, ASU broke through this season, winning over 10 games for the first time in program history and earning a spot in the Frozen Four tournament as an independent team, losing in the regional semifinal to Quinnipiac.
Individually, Koumontzis played well, but in bursts. He didn’t see his name on the scoresheet often, but when he did he made a major impact, recording four multi-point games. He earned the NCAA’s second star of the week with a six point outburst in two games against Nebraska-Omaha.
— Sun Devil Hockey (@SunDevilHockey) October 7, 2018
Numbers & Growth
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It’s hard to be as dominant playing against college players that are generally older and more experienced than it is to be playing against high school students, but Koumontzis put up a pretty good campaign for a freshman. He was a mainstay in ASU’s top six, was a strong puck distributor on the power play, and finished seventh in team scoring. League wide, he finished tied for 42nd in freshman scoring, but finished seventh when only counting true freshman (i.e. players born in the year 2000).
There are a few negatives, however. Obviously, the huge gaps in the scoring register are an issue. Koumontzis only scored points in 11 of his 35 games and had two streaks of six or more games where he didn’t score. He exploded and then disappeared for a while. There were moments where he looked unbeatable on the ice, but they were far too infrequent.
Koumontzis also appears to have lost some of the scoring edge that he displayed in Minnesota. He only managed to shoot the puck 53 times throughout the season, which is pretty low for a guy who was mostly playing second line minutes. His power play work does deserve some credit, but his 5v5 numbers are pretty atrocious. Only picking up 10 5v5 points in a season is rough at any level.
Again, he’s a freshman, and only a rare few have wire-to-wire great seasons. Koumontzis has a lot to like about him. He has developed nicely as a puck distributor, as evidenced by the team leading 12 primary assists. If he can develop some sort of consistency and find the goal-scoring again, he’s going to become a scary player.
Although there’s still time, it’s extremely unlikely Koumontzis is signed this off-season, so he’s headed back to the desert.
It should be an exciting year of growth. Koumontzis had some interesting patches of the season, but obviously had his growing pains. He’s still the youngest player on ASU’s roster (even with incoming recruits), so there will still be some of the ugly moments, but he’s also one of the more trusted players. He’ll get the opportunities to prove that he is much more than his draft position.