The Toronto Maple Leafs may not have followed through on my suggestion from yesterday that they claim Alex Galchenyuk off waivers, but they did the next best thing – the team has acquired the 27-year-old forward from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Yegor Korshkov and David Warsovsky.
We've acquired Alex Galchenyuk from Carolina in exchange for Egor Korshkov and David Warsofsky. #LeafsForever
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) February 15, 2021
If you would like to learn more about Galchenyuk and what he can bring to the team, I’d again suggest yesterday’s article. The cliff notes are pretty simple, though: He’s cheap (1 year at $1.05 million, a buriable amount), he’s got skill (averaging 20 goals and 47 points per 82 games over his career), and he wasn’t given a proper opportunity by the Senators this year. This is a former third overall pick who hasn’t reached expectations, but can still clearly play in the National Hockey League, and the team is looking for creative ways to fit in another solid forward.
The first question that will come to the minds of many: Why not just claim him off waivers, then? There’s a couple of reasons here that are key. For one, a trade like this gives the Leafs some roster flexibility. The team sheds two standard player contracts in exchange for one, and because Galchenyuk has already cleared waivers, Toronto has the ability to bounce him anywhere from the NHL squad, to the taxi squad, to the Marlies for 30 days or 10 NHL games (whichever comes first).
What goes the other way will range in perceived value from person to person. David Warsofsky is not a name that many in this market will miss – if they knew him to begin with. The veteran defenceman was acquired in the Kasperi Kapanen trade with Pittsburgh in the offseason and was expected to be a veteran in the Marlies depth chart, though the amount of games he would get with several better options, young and old, were probably slim to begin with.
The real meat here is in Yegor Korshkov, Toronto’s 31st overall pick in 2016. The 24-year-old overaged selection spent 53 regular season and playoff games with the Marlies, scoring 17 goals and adding 9 assists. He also played in one game with the big club last year, scoring a goal against the Buffalo Sabres in that debut. From the looks of it, Korshkov seems pretty content with staying in Russia for now – or at least, not attempting to battle for minutes with the Maple Leafs. It took the team three seasons to get him to cross the pond, they didn’t get a ton out of him, and he didn’t show much interest in playing for them this year, so odds are likely that this is more of a rights transfer than it is an actual loss of talent. While his KHL numbers this year have been his best yet, they’re still not at a star’s level in a league that is more suited to his mobility, and he’s entering the prime age window – so while it’s possible he eventually comes over and does well, the risk isn’t massive, and holding onto him for much longer was likely to be a sunk-cost move.
Had he been back in North America and willing to play, this deal would be a little bit of a headscratcher, but with the cards we can currently see, it seems like a decent gamble to take, banking on a player who has already had some NHL success to rebound. The risk is fairly minimal here and the upside is very good, so my initial review on this trade is a positive one.