Toronto Maple Leafs Are Finalists for an Exciting KHL Free Agent

Toronto Maple Leafs eyeing KHLer Alexander Barabanov (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs eyeing KHLer Alexander Barabanov (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs have done well dipping into the KHL talent pool. It appears as though they’re back at it again for next season.

While there will be many NHL unrestricted free agents (UFAs) who will hit the market once it officially becomes the offseason, the Toronto Maple Leafs are in contention for bringing in a desirable import player.

Kyle Dubas hit a home run by bringing over Ilya Mikheyev from the KHL in Russia. He may try and replicate that success by acquiring another player from the league, Alexander Barabanov.

There aren’t many rumours that have been circulating since the NHL went on hiatus. News of Barabanov shopping teams and considering the Leafs as one of his top three choices is significant. It could mean that Toronto receives a skilled player in Barabanov to join the team next season.

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The talk about the KHL’s left-shooting right-winger began when Sport-Express’ Igor Eronko tweeted about the finalists for his services.

If Barabanov’s next destination is Toronto, they will be acquiring a player with a winning track record. He has won two KHL Gagarin Cup Championships, a U20 World Juniors Championship bronze medal, two World Championship bronze medals, and an Olympic gold medal.

Barabanov’s best skill is his wheels. He’s been blowing past defenseman in Russia and internationally for years. Eronko has even suggested that the winger might be one of the five fastest skaters in the KHL.

Along with his quick feet, Barabanov infuses energy into the lineup along with some soft hands and nifty moves.

The biggest knock against Barabanov is his size. There have been conflicting reports on his height and weight. He’s either 5’10” and 192 lbs or 5’9″ and 190 lbs. Either way, he’s considered small for the NHL.

That shouldn’t stop the Toronto Maple Leafs from trying to bring Barabanov into the fold.

They already made the mistake of passing on Alex DeBrincat for Egor Korshkov in the 2016 draft because DeBrincat is 5’7.”

Size shouldn’t be a determining factor for a player’s future. With Kyle Dubas now in full control, this isn’t likely an issue.

The Toronto Maple Leafs also have two players listed at 5’10” in Andreas Johnsson and Alexander Kerfoot. They even traded for 5’9″ 177 lbs Denis Malgin ahead of the trade deadline.

Last season with SKA St. Petersburg, Barabanov recorded 46 points in 58 games. They came on 17 goals and 29 assists. This season, he missed time with a broken hand after being slashed by Sibir defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka. Jokipakka was suspended two games for the incident.

Despite the injury, Barabanov played 43 games this season and scored 11 goals and added nine assists for a sum of 20 points.

Acquiring Barabanov may just come down to money. Represented by Dan Milstein, the 25-year-old is free to negotiate with any team without having to sign an entry-level contract (ELC). Turning 26 on June 17, Barabanov is too old for an ELC.

Next. Every UFA in the Leafs' Division. dark

There’s no timeline for when a contract would need to be signed so there is the possibility that this saga could drag on for a while.