The Toronto Maple Leafs have today announced the signing of forward Dmitri Ovchinnikov to a three-year entry-level contract.
One of three Russian players selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2020 NHL Draft, Dmitri Ovchinnikov becomes the second to sign his entry-level contract with the organisation – the third of his draft class alongside William Villeneuve.
The 19-year-old forward was originally selected in the fifth round (137th overall) in 2020 and has been setting the Russian Junior Hockey League (MHL) on fire.
In 62 regular season games since being drafted, Ovchinnikov has registered a total of 80 points (33 goals, 47 assists) with Sibirskie Snaipery (Siberian Snipers) – leading his team in total points production in each of the past two seasons.
This season in particular Ovchinnikov has greatly impressed, leading the team in points (29) while playing just 22 games – a full 30 less than the team’s second-highest producer Yegor Verkhorubov.
The Chita native has been given a few opportunities to perform with HC Sibir Novosibirsk in the KHL, making a combined 33 regular season appearances at the professional level – scoring a goal and adding three helpers along the way.
His KHL contract was terminated earlier this week, paving the way for the Toronto Maple Leafs to bring him over to North America earlier than originally anticipated – with reports suggesting he is likely to link up with the Toronto Marlies as soon as he is granted a Canadian work visa.
Spending a couple of seasons developing in the AHL under the watchful eye of the Leafs organisation will help Ovchinnikov work on refining his play, with one of the most common comments made about him being that he is exceptionally talented, albeit very raw.
The 2020 Draft could provide the Leafs with a number of prospects working with the Marlies over the next few seasons, with first round selection Rodion Amirov expected to make the move after the KHL playoffs, while the likes of Roni Hirvonen and Topi Niemelä have impressed greatly in Finland and could continue their development in the AHL as early as next season.
For now, Ovchinnikov will get a head start on life in North America and give the Leafs another young person to work with in hopes of developing him into an NHL-calibre player.