Kirill Koltsov made his debut in the Russian Super League at the very young age of 17, when he played two games for Avangard Omsk in 2000. The 2000-01 season saw Koltsov play 65 games for Omsk, earning the equivalent to the Calder Trophy for best rookie in the Russian League. Although eligible for the 2001 draft and rated in the top 15 among the European skaters, Koltsov was unable to file the necessary paperwork and was disqualified from the draft.
The 2001-02 season was very difficult for Koltsov as he, along with two other young Russians, were being forced to sign long term contracts. They refused and this situation as well as a feud with National Junior team coach Vladimir Plyuschev, which saw him being left off the junior team, caused his stock drop for the 2002 draft as many in North America were unaware of the situation. In addition, his failure to arrive at the 2002 draft for interviews with various teams guaranteed Koltsov would not be picked in the first round, as he was picked by the Canucks 49th overall.
Koltsov had his best season as a pro during the 2002-03 season recording 12 points in 42 games and establishing himself as one of the better defensemen in the Russia. He came overseas playing exclusively for Manitoba of the AHL, where he enjoyed a solid season as he adjusted to the North American style of play.
Koltsov began the 2003-04 season playing in the AHL, but left the team shortly into the season. After returning to Omsk, Kiril Koltsov re-established himself as one of the club’s top six defensemen. While he did not stand out with his offensive production, the young blue liner played well and quickly adjusted to the bigger ice surface. Some North American observers may disagree, but development wise, Koltsov made a good decision to return back to Russia. He joined a club full of NHL players, including Jaromir Jagr, and got an opportunity to compete at a higher level of competition than the AHL can offer. His position on the third defensive pairing merited him a lot of ice time and not much more could be expected from the young defenseman as the club already fielded a number of capable defensemen, including former NHLers Tverdovsky, Koltsov, as well as established RSL veterans Ryabikin, Nikitin and Guskov.
Talent AnalysisKoltsov has the necessary skills to be an offensive defenseman as his stickhandling and passing is above average. His speed and skating ability allow him to weave through traffic and carry the puck through the neutral zone with a fair amount of ease. While Koltsov sees the ice very well, he needs to continue to improve, especially in the defensive zone, in order to have success in the NHL.
He plays a very aggressive style of game for a defenseman of his slight stature and has an impressive mean streak that helps him play on an edge. This style of his has a history of getting Koltsov in trouble as he has been known for taking retaliatory penalties and getting himself out of position trying make a big hit. The combination of his small stature and the reckless abandon he plays with, could cause Koltsov to wear down very easily over the long haul of a NHL season.