Today the Maple Leafs have signed Rodion Amirov to a three-year ELC beginning next season. Amirov, 19, was drafted 15th overall by the Leafs in 2020.

He has finished both his KHL season, and a subsequent return to the MHL (junior hockey) for a playoff round, and his KHL contract official expires at the end of this month.

“Our Club is pleased to have Rodion formally signed today. We look forward to welcoming Rodion to Canada in the coming weeks and having him begin working with our player development staff in Toronto,” said Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas. “We also look forward to continuing to work with Ufa with his development next season. Ufa has done an excellent job guiding Rodion’s development as a player to date and we are excited to work very closely with them through the summer and into the future.”

It is possible that he could be signed to a PTO and play out the Marlies season, but there are very few games remaining, and that would depend on when he arrives.

The reason performance bonuses affect recall is that when a team is using LTIR to recall a player, their full AAV, including the bonuses, counts against the LTIR pool. This can make a seemingly inexpensive player too expensive to fit in. While the status symbol of bonuses are often portrayed as a big deal, it’s usually only the elite of the elite who have a chance to earn much from them. This move by Amirov and his agent makes him more likely to get to the NHL sooner, which was a wise choice.

This is a fairly unusual choice by the Leafs. Not unprecedented, but it usually happens only when a Russian player fails to make the NHL. If this marks a thawing in the relationships between NHL teams and KHL clubs, where no transfer agreement exists, that’s a very good thing for the players and all teams, allowing the best choices to be made for each individual.

The assumption is the Amirov will stay with his home club Salavat Yulaev in Ufa.

Here is that team celebrating his signing and confirming the loan: