After mysterious reports yesterday that an unnamed Russian was in Toronto, and the Leafs wouldn’t tell anyone who he was, today the mystery is solved with the news that the Leafs have signed their 2016 second-round pick to an entry-level contract.
He has also signed a PTO with the Marlies for this season.
Korshkov was drafted 31st overall in 2016 at age 19, upsetting many people who can give you the list of players they wish the Leafs had taken instead. Since then Korshkov has played exclusively in the KHL after playing a nearly full season and one part season before he was drafted.
Two of his KHL seasons with Lokomotiv, the club he joined as a junior-aged player after growing up in Kazakhstan, have been shortened by serious injuries. Both times he came back in time for the playoffs, but he only has one complete KHL season since he was drafted.
He is a tall, yet mobile and agile player, listed on the KHL website now at 6’4” and 187 lbs.
Update: I knew this was wrong, but it was all there was, so:
That's a mistake. He's about 193-195— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) May 1, 2019
He is also a right wing, something the Leafs organization has in abundance, but he does shoot left, opening up some possibilities for him to play on his strong side. He has never played the left side as an adult, however.
After this season’s second round defeat by Lokomotiv, Korshkov was called up to play for the Russian National B Team in some international friendlies prior to the World Championships. He was then called up to the Senior Men’s Team to play a few more, but eventually was released a few days ago as the flood of NHL players took over the roster.
Because of his injury this year, he’s played less than 30 games of competitive hockey, but he is in obvious game shape now after going through the playoffs and the national team camp for several weeks.
Korshkov plays both special teams, and is very good at being a hard to move annoyance at net-front on the power play. His height and agility make him very good at the penalty kill where his area of control is very large. At five-on-five, he spent some time this season on a third line that wasn’t used exclusively offensively the way he has been in previous years. His defensive game is not his best event, but it’s not missing entirely either. His main focus is offensive cycles, and he is an excellent set-up man for more gifted shooters.
He is coming from a second tier KHL team that has been pressing to advance the entire time he’s been on the team. They are a step up from the average AHL team in speed, experience and intensity. On the Marlies, he’s in with a group of young, mobile, fast players who will play a game he’ll recognize. He’s just come from a team where the two most talented offensive players are defencemen, and he’s about to meet Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren. Mac Hollowell is also making a good impression on the team. Korshkov is going to fit right in with these players.
He’s also an intense and feisty player. The tone of the AHL, particularly in the playoffs, can be a surprise to some players out of junior hockey or more sedate European leagues, but he’s going to be just fine when the time comes to be vocal to the other team, the ref or even his own teammates. He’s not an easy man to knock over, either.
Like most Russian offensive forwards, he doesn’t play a hitting game, he plays a puck possession game, but he’s good at digging it out in the corners, and he is an excellent passer. If there is a weakness that might stand out it’s response under pressure in the defensive zone. Other European players have remarked that the more confined space and sometime chaotic behaviour of AHL hockey is hard to adapt to. It’s unlikely that Sheldon Keefe would want to use Korshkov in a defensive role, however. I think I’d be very tempted to put him on the opposite wing to Pierre Engvall and see what these too somewhat similar players can make happen.
Y the New Name?
Yegor, as we used to know him, is one possible spelling of the Russian name Егoр. You should not confuse this name with Igor, which is Игорь. The KHL makes decisions about how to write names out in the Latin alphabet, and so Yegor it was. But it’s not pronounced like yesterday or year. It’s just a type of E sound. So to hopefully get North Americans to say his name remotely correctly, the Y has to go.
At least he won’t get called Yeggy now.