The Times Colonist is reporting today that the Leafs fifth round draft pick in 2016, Vladimir Bobylev, is returning to Canada to play with the Victoria Royals.
Bobylev (known in the KHL as Bobylyov) is only 19, and still eligible for WHL play.
He joined the KHL team Spartak this season, where he played limited minutes in 20 games and scored one goal and two assists. He also played three games for the VHL (second division men’s league) club in the Spartak system, Khimik, where he scored one goal and one assist while getting more icetime.
He came back to Spartak from the VHL, but did not appear in any games. It was obvious some change had to happen.
“This was driven by the player and the KHL club,” said [general manager of the Royals] Hope.
“It was not an easy thing for [Spartak] to do. But they, and the Russian federation, agreed to the transfer. And we can’t wait. It won’t take him long to adapt to the smaller ice sheet.”
Bobylev is expected to be in the line-up next week when the Royals play the Portland Winterhawks twice and the Vancouver Giants once, all three games at home, before the Christmas break.
Bobylev had 67 points in 72 games for the Royals last year, a breakout season that was likely what got him drafted by the Leafs. At 6’2” and over 200 lbs, it is easy to see why everyone thought men’s hockey was where he should be. But if he can get ice time in Victoria, the step back in level of play might be the best thing for him.
You can keep track of Bobylev in the weekly CHL prospect reports which are posted every Monday.