Realistically speaking, the Leafs didn’t have to do much in the 2016 Entry Draft after selecting Auston Matthews. They could have used every pick during the second day to spend three minutes talking about their eventual Stanley Cup Parade and they still would have come out ahead.
Some analysts felt that they came pretty close to doing that on that day, at least in contrast to the year before. Now that the dust has settled a bit, we’re starting to nail down some hits and misses; Carl Grundstrom and Adam Brooks look like strong hits, the towering defencemen look like misses, and many still look like maybes.
Yegor Korshkov was Toronto’s first pick on that morning, and to this day, he still might be the most curious and unknown of the group.
|Age||21 (July 10, 1996)||Birthplace||Novosibirsk, Russia|
|Pos||Right Wing (LH)||Drafted||2016 (Rd 2, Pick 31)|
|Vitals||6’4, 187lbs||Acquired||Via Draft|
One of the allures that Korshkov had on draft day was familiarity. Specifically, familiarity with part-time Leafs scout Yevgeni Namestnikov, who was an assistant coach for Korskhov’s Lokomotiv Yaroslav. This meant that he was able to weigh in some input to the team on why he was a capable prospect that others wouldn’t quite know and that he would be able to assist in developing him as a player that fit Toronto’s mould.
A little insider trader-y? Yeah. But if an exploit is legal, you may as well use it, so the Leafs opted to take a chance. The fact that Korshkov had already played 55 KHL games at 19 certainly helped; teams don’t usually give that much opportunity to young players unless they see something. As well, he contributed to Lokomotiv’s youth team in a big way at the end of the year, leading them in playoff scoring to win them an MHL championship.
|16||2012-13||Lokomotiv Yaroslavl U17||Russia U17||33||22||25||47||60|
Last season, the gamble looked like a good one. Korshkov picked up 19 points in 36 games, good for 12th in Under-24 points per game with about half of that list being 23 years old or in their upper 22’s (Miro Aaltonen, by the way, finished 4th in points per game in this group and 1st in total points).
|pGPSn||pGPSs||Exp. Success %||Exp. P/82||Exp. Value|
|16 (27/31)||1 (T27/31)||10.2% (24/31)||38.0 (8/31)||3.9 (19/31)|
The above numbers are products of the Prospect Graduation Probabilities System (pGPS), created by Canucks Army to project a prospect’s odds of becoming an NHL regular. For a run-down on what each of these stats mean, head back to the introduction.
Korshkov’s pool of comparables is small for a few reasons. The KHL is still a relatively new league, but more importantly, it’s rather rare for young players like him to draw into regular games with regular ice time. Usually, even if a teenager or 20-year-old dresses, they’re stuffed on the bench for all but one or two serious shifts a game.
As well, non-obvious star forwards do tend to stay in Russia, with the allure of getting a better-guaranteed compensation while staying home often being too much to take the risk. pGPS does like Korskhov if he does take the leap, though, putting him in the top quarter or so of the group in projected point production.
Korshkov bucks a trend with Russian prospects, in the sense that many see him as a power forward type. He’s willing to work hard along the boards, distribute to his linemates, and he has zero fear in throwing the body around. The fact that he doesn’t have a ton of weight on him has been noted as a concern in the past, but he has filled in a bit since his draft day.
The Upcoming Year
Korshkov’s KHL season is well underway, and unfortunately for those looking for a breakout, he hasn’t been particularly lights-out to start the season. In his first 15 games, the youngster has just three points; a career low pace should he keep it up.
It is worth noting that Lokomotiv, as a whole, is having an odd start to their season. Pavel Kraskovsky and Alexander Polunin, the other young guns that are looked at to be key contributors to the organization, have also gone cold, producing 2 and 0 points this season respectively. The team themselves have a winning record but are sitting at just a +1 goal differential at this stage, a far cry from the healthy disparities they had in the two seasons prior.
I’d have to assume something changes there; maybe not a dominant season, but definitely not one where a good team’s top youth line keeps shooting at 3%.
Korshkov’s willingness to play along the perimeter in a more physical since affords him a lot of opportunity in just about any league he may play in. His ability to drive a line likely lands in bottom six territory, but in the right situation, he could be a compliment to a good scoring line (think Zach Hyman here).
The Leafs likely have two swings to make a decision on their future with Korshkov; the conclusion of this season when his current KHL contract expires, and at the end of 2019/20 when his rights are due to be relinquished. He’ll be 22 at the start of next season, so if he has true, genuine NHL aspirations, it may be worth his time to take an ELC, start next year with the Marlies, and see where it takes him.
To see the other profiles in this year’s series, please reference the full list.---
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