Mississauga Majors centre Kristoff Kontos (Mike Carroccetto photo)Kristoff Kontos is optimistic that going to a team which is a better fit for him might help his NHL draft stock.
The 18-year-old centre practically went from one end of the hockey-philosophy spectrum to the other when the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors acquired him in January from the Sudbury Wolves. The Majors, as you might remember from last spring's MasterCard Memorial Cup, are known for their tight-checking, conservatively structured game. The Wolves play a bit more of an attacking style. Since Kontos, who was NHL Central Scouting's 99th-ranked North American skater in January, projects as a depth player, the move allowed
"I had high hopes coming over," says Kontos, the son of former NHLer Chris Kontos. "James Boyd [the Mississauga coach and general manager] was really adamant that I fit a part of his system and his team. It's been great so far.
"I learned tons in Sudbury under [former coach] Mike Foligno and [current coach] Trent Cull," the 6-foot-2, 197-pound native of Penetanguishene, Ont., adds. "But it came time where it was my draft year and I needed to concern myself with getting the ice time that I need. St. Mike's really wanted to develop me. It was a no-brainer."
Kontos, who had 15 goals and 47 points in 66 games this season, has helped shore up the Majors' top-six forwards.
"We were in desperate need of a natural centreman around the trade deadline," says Boyd. "We traded a pretty good player in Derek Schoenmakers for him. But he [Kontos] has been everything we thought. He's a good playmaker. He's able to distribute the puck well [with 19 assists in 31 games for Mississauga]. I'd like to see him shoot a little bit more. He's great on the faceoffs and been using his big body more lately to win battles.
"There's upside with him [Kontos]," Boyd adds. "He's got size which you can't teach. It's just a matter of continuing to get better every day."
Kontos is hoping to reprise some of his Sudbury experience in this year's post-season. He helped the Wolves sweep a higher-seeded opponent last spring. Mississauga finished sixth in the Eastern Conference, 12 points behind Barrie. A combination of the Majors' 9-3-0-0 finishing kick across their past dozen games and the Colts losing leading scorer Tanner Pearson to a broken fibula has made Missy a a near even-money bet to advance to Round 2.
"Playoffs is a whole different season," Kontos says. "When I was with Sudbury, we beat Ottawa as the seventh seed and hopefully we can do something like that this year."
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