Reports out of Russia have emerged that suggest Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Yegor Korshkov will return home next season.
Yegor Korshkov was not included in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Phase 4 roster and it now appears as if he will continue his development back in Russia.
Per Sport24, a Russian media outlet, Korshkov will be loaned back to his former club, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the Kontinental Hockey League, for a season.
This move may come as a surprise for fans of the team, especially after he made the move over to North American hockey for the very first time just over a year ago.
Korshkov followed up his nine-game Calder Cup playoff stint with a season primarily spent in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies, scoring 16 goals and registering 25 total points in 44 regular-season games.
He made his NHL debut with the Leafs in their 5-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres back in February, playing just over 10 minutes of ice time and scoring his first-ever NHL goal with his only shot of the game.
Things appeared to be going well for the Russian winger, who has suffered through some injuries since being selected in the second round (31st overall) of the 2016 Draft, so this report about him opting to leave the Marlies after just one full season is sure to raise some questions.
Except, it really shouldn’t. The decision to loan Korshkov back to his former team is a logical decision by the Leafs organisation, with the uncertainty still facing hockey in North America.
It is currently unknown if/when the AHL will be able to resume play this year, with some belief that the 2020-21 season will start much later than usual, or even be cancelled if the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic situation doesn’t change in the USA.
If it’s unclear when the Leafs’ affiliates will take to the ice again, there doesn’t seem to be many benefits to keeping a player hanging around when he has a chance at playing regular minutes in a top league and continue to develop his game.
Korshkov will only be loaned back to the KHL, meaning the Leafs could excise some form of agreement that would see him head over to North America once the future of the minor league is clarified.
He isn’t likely to break into the NHL roster just yet, needing another year to work on some areas, including improving his overall offensive production outside of his goalscoring, so the Leafs would benefit more from letting him go back home than keeping him waiting around for a call that many never come.
What this loan means for his entry-level contract, which expires next summer, is yet to be seen.
When the situation with this virus clears up, Korshkov will have his chance at staking a claim for an NHL roster spot once again, but until then, he may as well get good minutes and play meaningful hockey until such a time arrives.