Dan Milstein, best known as the agent of a solid half of the Russians playing in the National Hockey League today, tweeted this afternoon that the Toronto Maple Leafs will be placing Alexey Marchenko on waivers today and that an announcement will come tomorrow about his client’s future.
Alexey Marchenko of the Toronto Maple Leafs was put on NHL waivers today. Media statement tomorrow at 1pm EST.
— Dan Milstein-Hockey (@HockeyAgent1) August 14, 2017
The timing of this particular on the surface. The season is still a month and a half away, and with no arbitration cases to worry about, the Maple Leafs don’t have a second buyout window to work with. However, there is still one more route that can be explored here, and that’s mutual termination.
What would have to happen here is that the Leafs will thread him through the unconditional waiver process, and terminate the deal once he’s cleared. At that point, Marchenko becomes an unrestricted free agent.
More likely than not, Marchenko’s end destination will be CSKA Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League. Marchenko has had his Russian rights held by the team since he was in his mid-teens, and was listed on their official roster in early June. As one of the richest teams in the league, CSKA can afford to give him a real-dollar salary that’s competitive with what the Leafs owed him for the rest of the year ($1.5 million USD), especially given that their defence is a little low on globally-known names right now (Nikita Nesterov has had the best North American career of the bunch).
CSKA’s season begins exactly a week from today against rivals SKA St. Petersburg, so it would make sense for there to be an urgency to make this move now.
A move like this is likely best for all involved parties. Marchenko is low enough in Toronto’s depth chart at the moment that he likely would have had to play for the Toronto Marlies this year, something that he likely doesn’t want to do as a 25-year-old who hasn’t played regular AHL minutes in over two years. As well, this gives him Olympic flexibility; Marchenko has played for the Russian national team as recently as the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
On Toronto’s end of the bargain, a mutual termination would bring them back down to 48 contracts and clear his full $1.45 million cap hit off of the books, giving them about $400,000 more in wiggle room than an AHL assignment would have given them.