Egor Korshkov (formerly known as Yegor Korshkov) has finally made his way to North America, three summers after his controversial selection 31st overall in the 2016 Auston Matthews draft.
Eggy has spent two and a half seasons growing and developing in Russia with the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl organization, playing in 172 KHL games over five seasons, notching 22 goals and 41 assists all within the ages of 18 to 22-years-old. Now at 23, and with nine AHL games under his belt, Korshkov is in Toronto and ready to put the finishing touches on his development before hopefully making the Maple Leafs.
The team is very high on this player, noting his size, goal-scoring abilities, and ability to play a fast but heavy game at 5v5. Korshkov’s introduction to the Marlies wasn’t great; he was thrown right into the playoffs less than a week after arriving to Canada for the first time ever with his father, Alexei.
It’s Egor to us, Erop in the cyrillic.
The Myth About his Skating
As of right now, we don’t know much about Korshkov as a player (except for Katya, who has been watching him in the KHL for the past three full seasons), but we do have nine playoff games and all of next season to watch him on the North American smaller ice with players who are exactly one step away from the NHL.
On his first night with the team (the post-game is above), Korshkov played on the third line with Pierre Engvall and Dmytro Timashov. He was watched very closely on his first few shifts and there was a feeling among the reporters in attendance that he looked out of sync with his teammates or hesitant on where to be. I think those moments where he was stuttering at the offensive blueline waiting for the puck and getting into the play a step late translated into bad skating to some people, but in reality I think it was just timing.
When he had the puck and was hustling around the boards for the puck or in his own zone, Korshkov looked completely able to keep up with the play and was very strong on his feet. He’s a big guy (6’4”), and despite his slim build, is very strong in puck battles along the boards or in front of the opposing team’s net. His highlights in Russia speak to a player with great mobility and drive (see below), so I find the myth that he can’t skate even more dubious.
I think a lot of people get carried away with small players who can skate like waterbugs because they move their tiny legs super fast and it looks exciting, therefore all big players with long strides are trash. It’s been rare to find big players who can skate really well (the Ryan Getzlaf types) in the NHL who both have the ability to drive play and be big meanies to the baddies.
But big guys can skate, too, and the Leafs have several of those types in the league, despite Kyle Dubas’ stereotype of liking small guys. Auston Matthews and John Tavares aside, the Leafs have Korshkov, Engvall, Mason Marchment, and Ilya Mikheyev all as strong scorers from the wing (or centre in Pierre’s case).
I can’t speak thoroughly on Korshkov and Mikheyev yet, but in Engvall and Marchment’s cases, they may not be the flashiest players in the world but they are very effective players at gaining possession and doing something with it. And even if they’re not on a scoring binge, at least they’re doing things in other areas of the ice.
For the Leafs, their needs will be bottom-nine wingers who can fill in around the stars. I think these players have massive value, which is why I ranked them as high as I did in the T25U25.
I spoke a little bit about this in the rant above, but I think it would do good for the skimmers to flesh it out a little more here.
Maybe I have an affinity for giraffes, but I like Korshkov’s skating. He’s dynamic, he has a nose for the net (which you can see in many of his highlight reels), and knows how to make the creative play. On his line in the KHL, it appeared that Korshkov was the primary play driver, but on the Marlies it was Engvall. Korshkov instead stood at the offensive blueline and waited to get in on the forecheck and did his dirty work from there.
One thing I liked about Korshkov in his KHL videos and AHL try-out was that he was really clever about getting separation from the defenders who are covering him. He’s constantly moving and dodging and weaving in and out of bodies on the ice in order to get open and make a play.
Korshkov has a really good shot and he tries to find every opportunity to use it, whether it be bouncing off the defender in front of the net to create a passing lane or jumping out of the cycle as the high man to rip a chance from the faceoff circles, he’s always looking for chances to score. Engvall and Marchment are both like this as well, which makes me think the Leafs have a type.
The Transition to Canada
All European players need a transition period where they figure out the new ice and playing style. Coaches here always talk about buying into the system and it really is an important part of the adjustment. If you aren’t where you need to be at the right time, you’re going to look lost.
In recent memory, players like William Nylander, Andreas Johnsson, and Calle Rosen all needed time in the AHL to get their footing and feel comfortable in the AHL before moving up and being an important player (yes, that is a hot take on Rosen). Give Korshkov about 40-50 games and I think he’ll really start to show more aspects of his game that haven’t been put to the forefront just yet.
I think the Marlies officially have every forward and defenseman possible in the AHL under contract with the Marlies and a million more on NHL deals that are poised to be buried. The depth chart is enormous and it’s really hard to parse it all through pre-training camp. Non-prospects aside, I think the Leafs have Engvall and Marchment as the closest two to the NHL, with Adam Brooks not too far behind.
After that, Bracco has proven that he’s an AHL scorer, but there is no reason to believe that he’ll be willing to play defense long enough to get a sniff on an NHL roster. Korshkov is in this next area where he’s not as good on the high end as Bracco, but I think his path to the NHL (which is the only thing that is important here) is much easier. He’s going to need a season where he gets acclimated and hopefully puts up some numbers.
His best chance of that will be to re-join with Engvall and Timashov on what will likely be the team’s second line. That line had an incredibly awful shooting percentage as a line in the playoffs, despite being one of the best lines at possession and shots. Basically, what I’m saying is regression, regression, regression.
Now, ignore everything you heard from me and listen to the only Korshkov expert in the country. She knows her stuff and we would be fools to ignore her insight on a player and in a league we really don’t know anything about.
Katya: I really enjoy watching Korshkov play, and I like him a lot. He’s into the game, he’s feisty, he’s always looking for the puck and to make a play. So I wonder if I’m all that objective. Nonetheless, he just squeaked in on my list at 25th. At some point you have to stop saying, “If he takes a leap this year…” He was very obviously hampered by a language barrier on the Marlies in his short stint there, and was playing a stripped-down, simple game that some observers took to be his whole game and were heavily critical of. He’ll be more versatile this year, and if he takes a leap…
Am I really going to quote myself in my own article? Yeah, why not.
Hardev: People are wrong about Korshkov’s skating. They saw him in his first game stutter at the blueline several times and he was slow to react to where the puck was going to be. None of these are skating issues, they were timing issues. Eggy had just arrived in Canada for the first time in his life, he barely knew any English, and he did not know the system. Give him a sec.
I respect Kevin for providing the counter-argument, but I disagree. Nonetheless, here it is.
Kevin: He had one point in nine playoff games with the Marlies, which came off a beautiful pass from Rasmus Sandin. He was one of the slower players on the team, so he didn’t bring much to the table in transition. He was never much of a goal scorer in the KHL, so I’m not sure this is your prototypical net-front scorer. He’s 6’4” every shift, but the Marlies should be deeper up front this year, and he’s going to have to perform right away to avoid falling down the depth chart. He’s only played nine games in the AHL, but he’s already 23, so he needs to put himself on the map this year.
Brigstew: I think about Korshkov what Katya or Hardev tell me to think about him.
'You, man, you!' pic.twitter.com/1o4dU0n0E7— KHL (@khl_eng) January 25, 2019
Top 25 Under 25
European Reports - season in review
Yegor Korshkov on injured list until mid-December
European Report: back for the stretch drive
European Report: Korshkov gets some points, and Räsänen continues his rehab
European Report: Korshkov with a game-winner
European Report: playoffs are just around the corner
European Prospect Report: Yegor Korshkov advances to round two of the playoffs
European Prospect Report: Yegor Korshkov advances to round two of the playoffs
European Prospect Report: Win some, lose some
European Report: Yegor Korshkov eliminated and Jesper Lindgren scores
Katya on Korshkov’s lack of scoring
Where does Korshkov rank among Marlies wingers in your Top 25 Under 25