For the Toronto Maple Leafs, this is a moment which many had thought would never come.
Egor Korshkov is officially a Maple Leaf. Well, this has technically been the case ever since 2016 when then-assistant-GM Mark Hunter announced his name as the 31st pick in the draft, but Korshkov’s path to North America and, ultimately, the Leafs organization paints a far murkier picture. It’s been a long and winding journey for the Russian-native; one littered with plenty of stops and starts.
That journey finally reached its destination this morning.
Korshkov is 22-years-old at the moment, set to celebrate his 23rd birthday on July 10th. Of the non-roster players within the Leafs system who are signed to Entry-Level-Contracts, Korshkov is among the oldest, and arrives in Toronto having spent the past four years and 172 games up against professional competition. That experience will certainly help curb his acclimation process, without a doubt. But while Korshkov hits the ice as a more well-rounded product from a developmental standpoint, expectations of his performance will elevate as a result, as well.
This is not a prospect that Leafs management will treat with kid gloves.
Korshkov is a borderline adult now. Waiting to make the overseas leap so long after his initial draft year means that Korshkov will hit the ground right as he rapidly approaches the age when prospects must either hint towards their readiness for the NHL, or risk losing their spot to someone who does.
Not to mention, Korshkov’s final spin in the KHL this past season did not go according to plan, either.
One of the primary factors for why Korshkov opted against signing with the Maple Leafs prior to the 2018-19 season was the expectation that he’d transition into a “leading role” on Yaroslavl Lokomotiv. That leading role ultimately amounted to 3 goals and 2 assists in just 19 games, with Korshkov spending four months sidelined with an injury he suffered just 6 games into the year.
That likely isn’t what he had in mind.
Today’s news, however, presents a shot at redemption. The Toronto Marlies announced shortly after the initial ELC was reported that Korshkov will join the team for the remainder of their postseason run. Korshkov even participated in the Marlies’ morning skate earlier today ahead of the first game of their matchup with the Cleveland Monsters that is set to kick off the second round tonight.
Whether he draws into game action right away remains to be seen, of course, but Sheldon Keefe has repeatedly demonstrated an intent to integrate newly-signed players into his lineup as soon as possible, and Korshkov’s raw skill is an enticing weapon for the Marlies to add ahead of what projects to be a hotly-contested playoff series. (Stats from hockey db.com)
Ignore his draft position, for a moment. Korshkov is still a 6’4 right winger bearing a collection of skill and physicality which, if nurtured along properly, could lend well to the level above. Most fans know him only as the over-ager whom the Maple Leafs drafted ahead of Alex DeBrincat in the second round. And while that may be true, it is certainly not the fault of Korshkov himself.
When looked at in a vacuum, it’s hard not to find positives in his long-awaited arrival.