It was a magical night for Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Egor Korshkov who played his first NHL game but things were a lot murkier earlier in the day.
After five years in the KHL and half a season in the AHL, left-winger Egor Korshkov has been given the opportunity at a third professional league, the NHL. The Toronto Maple Leafs called up the 6’02” Russian on Sunday morning, exciting the fanbase.
On the surface, this looked like a straight forward call-up, but there were some mysterious things in play. We break it down.
Korshkov joined the Maple Leafs when they selected him in the same 2016 draft as Auston Matthews. At the time, when the team made the first pick of the second round, 31st overall, they disappointed fans by taking Korshkov.
On the board was a dynamic scorer and playmaker Alex DeBrincat who tore up the OHL scoring 332 points in three years. His biggest problem was that he was 5’7″.
Korshkov was a player whose size was more suitable for the NHL, his numbers, however, weren’t nearly as impressive. Korshkov’s appeal was that he was being trusted in Russia as a boy among men, making the leap to the KHL from the equivalent of major junior in Eurasia, the MHL.
It appeared as though he would be ready to immediately make the move to North America.
Korshkov did cross the ocean in 2019 to join the Toronto Marlies in their playoff run. He played nine games and recorded one point. The winger then started with the Marlies at the start of this season. So far, in 35 AHL games he’s managed to tally a respectable 14 goals and seven assists along with 22 penalty minutes.
Where Things Get Odd
The Maple Leafs recalled two forwards in one action. Along for the drive to Buffalo for the game against the Sabres was Korshkov’s Marlies teammate, Mason Marchment.
The Toronto Maple Leafs oddly called up two forwards despite not announcing that any players will be out of the lineup. This meant that for a short time there were too many players on the Leafs roster.
The unknown led fans to speculate that the move was in response to an incoming trade. On the other hand, it could have just been a safety measure for a player who was ill with the potential to miss the game.
While the Leafs did eventually place Andreas Johnsson on LTIR, they were also named to be one of the bidders for Blake Coleman. They may have held off on roster announcements while they tried to enhance it. The winners of the Coleman sweepstakes turned out to be the surging Tampa Bay Lightning.
What makes things even more strange are the events that led up to Korshkov’s call-up. While the Maple Leafs official Twitter account did eventually announce the move, it was actually Dan Milstein, Korshkov’s agent who broke the news first through his Twitter account.
The post is only odd because Milstein then deleted the tweet. It read, “Congratulations to Egor Korshkov on earning the first NHL call up with the Toronto Maple Leafs! #AreYouGoldStar? #tmltalk”.
Perhaps Leafs brass told the agent to remove the post or maybe he realized he shouldn’t scoop the team.
The most likely scenario though was that there was no guarantee that Milstein’s client was going to see the ice. This made for a curious situation. That is until Korshkov was seen skating in the warmup and his agent dropped a similar tweet.
There may well have been something at play behind the scenes but in the end, Korshkov’s call-up had him get into the game and not the press box.
It was an exciting night for the big Russian. He was trusted with 10:08 minutes of playing time and he made sure to make the most of it.
Despite playing on Toronto’s fourth line, Korshkov scored his first NHL goal. It came on a feed from center Jason Spezza at 11:29 of the second period. It was a night that he’ll never forget.
While Korshkov was having a magical night, the Maple Leafs were floundering. They ended up losing the game and allowing two important points slip away. While it’s unclear how long Korshkov will remain with the Buds, he will hopefully help the team turn things around.