Toronto Maple Leafs: Yegor Korshkov preparing to join team

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: (L-R) Lou Lamoriello and Brendan Shanahan of the Toronto Maple Leafs attend the 2017 NHL Draft at the United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: (L-R) Lou Lamoriello and Brendan Shanahan of the Toronto Maple Leafs attend the 2017 NHL Draft at the United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Russian winger Yegor Korshkov is reportedly ready to sign his entry-level deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs, after being selected 31st in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

It’s hard to really remember the 2016 NHL Draft for the Toronto Maple Leafs past the first round, where they got Auston Matthews with the first overall pick.

There were several prospects taken after Matthews but the hype that comes with a top pick slightly overshadowed the rest of the class.

Out of the middle rounds, the Leafs got current Toronto Marlies’ forwards in Carl Grundstrom (57th overall) and Adam Brooks (92nd overall), as well as Joseph Woll and J.D. Greenway in the third round.

The selection that Leafs fans might know the least about, however, is their second-round pick, Yegor Korshkov.

According to KHL insider Aivis Kalnins, Yegor Korshkov is looking to sign his entry-level contract with the Maple Leafs during the offseason. In 10 days, he becomes a free agent in the KHL. Having not re-upped with Lokomotiv, it looks as though a move to Toronto is imminent.

The Leafs have shown their trust in their Russian scouts in the past few drafts. It started with Martins Dzierkals in 2015 and continued in 2016, with Korshkov and seventh-round pick Nikolai Chebykin.

With the first pick of the second round, the Leafs had several solid choices that slipped outside the first round. Alex Debrincat, Jordan Kyrou and Jonathan Dahlen are just a few who were still on the board for the Leafs to pick.

Instead, they selected Korshkov, who was passed over in the previous two drafts, with the pick. Korshkov was rated by NHL Central Scouting as the seventh-best European skater in the draft.

Here was his scouting report via Future Considerations.

"Korshkov is a big, rangy power winger. He uses his large frame to his advantage in protecting the puck, to create his own working space and also to punish his opponents in the corners. He still has plenty of room to add considerable mass and strength as he is quite wiry. He is very mobile on the ice and is able to apply good forechecking pressure deep in the zone.He has great poise and puck control with soft hands; he’s able to push defensemen back on their heels as he challenges them. Korshkov has superior vision that allows him to dish terrific passes, even while at high speed. He is a constant threat around the crease because of his reach and puck skill.His shot is very strong, but he does not use it enough. He has some defensive inconsistencies in his game as one shift he can work hard to separate his opposition from the puck, support his teammates as an option and win board battles, while other times, he looks disinterested in any play inside his own blue line."

Korshkov has played the last two seasons with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in the KHL. After being drafted, he posted six goals and 19 points in 31 games, finishing sixth in team scoring behind former Leafs’ Brandon Kozun and Petri Kontiola.

This year, Korshkov upped his goal and point production. He finished with eight goals and 26 points.

This month, the winger was also a member of the Russian National B-team for a pair of games against Norway.

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In this day and age, prospects that are drafted in the first couple of rounds generally have an expectation that they’ll be pro ready by the time they are 20 or 21, if not sooner. Korshkov is currently 21 and will turn 22 before the start of next season.

Korshkov likely has another two years to refine his game with the Marlies, until he’s considered a top option to join the Maple Leafs’ lineup full-time. That would leave him at 24 years old, when he’s a viable choice for Mike Babcock.

While that seems like he’d be ready sooner, seventh-rounder Andreas Johnsson had a similar path to North America prior to being drafted. Although he wasn’t a top pick, Johnsson had tons of buzz when he made his way to Toronto.

Johnsson didn’t feature with the Marlies until he was 21. When he did play, it was during the 2016 playoffs. Now, after two seasons in the AHL, Johnsson looks like he is primed to open next season in the NHL.

With the 6 foot 4, 187 lb Korshkov on the team, the Marlies will have two big wingers in him and Pierre Engvall, who has earned a contract with his strong play since coming over from Sweden.

Next: The pressure of playoff hockey

It’s an exciting time for Leafs fans, who should have another solid squad come next season. If he lives up to his billing, Korshkov will be a player to keep a close eye on in the AHL next year.