Toronto Maple Leafs Goaltending Prospect Wins Top Goaltender Award

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The Toronto Maple Leafs organization is celebrating the success of a few of their prospects right now. Easton Cowan recently earned the OHL playoffs MVP for registering 34 points (10 goals, 24 assists) in 18 playoff games. His MVP performance helped the London Knights win the OHL championship. Cowan will be challenging for a roster spot with the Leafs this next season.
(All stats from eliteprospects.com)

The Toronto Maple Leafs fans hear more about players like Cowan because he plays closer to Toronto and receives plenty of media attention. However, there is one prospect who does not play anywhere near Toronto who had an incredible season. Goaltending prospect Artur Akhtyamov, who plays in Russia, just won the VHL goaltender of the year award.

Akhtyamov split his 2023-24 season between the VHL and the KHL. In the KHL, he posted a 2.51 GAA and a .921 SV% with one shutout in 17 games for Ak Bars Kazan. In the VHL, he posted a 2.00 GAA and a .927 SV% with three shutouts for Neftyanik Almetievsk in 19 games. His KHL record was 6-7-0, while his VHL record was 10-5-4. Akhtyamov also posted a 16-5-0 record in 21 playoff games with a 2.15 GAA and a .932 SV% with two shutouts for Neftyanik Almetievsk.

One thing to remember is that Akhtyamov is in Russia on loan.

He is signed to the Leafs and is under contract until the end of the 2025-26 season for $851,667. He will be a restricted free agent (RFA) after the 2025-26 season, so there is no rush in bringing him to North America. However, this will depend on what the Leafs do with their goaltending depth between now and then. (Salary cap info from capfriendly.com)

With Matt Murray, Ilya Samsonov, and Martin Jones all being unrestricted free agents (UFA) this off-season, Akhtyamov is currently fourth on the Leafs goaltending depth chart. He is behind Joseph Woll, Dennis Hildeby, and Keith Petruzzelli. Goaltending will be a main focal point for Leafs management this off-season, so we'll see where the team decides to go and how it will affect Akhtyamov.

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The most likely career path for Akhtyamov will be to play a full season in the KHL next season before coming over to North America. He will likely play one to two seasons in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies before getting his shot at playing in the NHL. I don't think he'll be NHL-ready until at least the 2026-27 season at the earliest.