According to the KHL Media Team, Toronto Maple Leafs forward prospect Yegor Korshkov will stay in Russia another season.
The 31st overall pick in the 2016 NHL entry draft, Korshkov has been much discussed since the moment he was selected by Toronto over more touted prospects. He’s spent the past four seasons with Yaroslavl Lokomotiv of the KHL, reaching career highs in games played (54) and total points (36) this season. This is a respectable showing for a 21-year-old (Korshkov turns 22 on July 10th this summer), but it isn’t the kind of big leap that would solidify his future role with the Leafs.
Toronto diehards were likely hoping to get a closer look at Korshov next season, and to see where he might fit in on a deep Marlies squad. In lieu of that: Korshkov is a tall, slim player, listed at 6’4” and 180 lbs., though he’s filled out since his draft year. He’s played right wing recently and put in time both on the power play and the penalty kill, which should be encouraging to those hoping for a Leafs future for him. Our blogboss Katya Knappe earlier described him as resembling a giraffe, long and lanky and at times still figuring out how his limbs work. I asked Katya for her current thoughts on where Korshkov’s at:
Korshkov plays a secondary scoring line role on Lokomotiv, and has seen his usage gradually get tougher as he and the rest of his young line have gotten better at playing in the defensive zone. He’s a much bigger and more confident skater, and is very fast for someone 6’4”. He puts that height to use on the PK, where his reach is valuable. He plays some second unit power play, but while his offensive game is a lot of playmaking from the halfboards and shooting in close, he doesn’t seem to be a natural on the power play the way Andreas Johnsson is.
Lokomotiv made a coaching change, and late in the season Korshkov’s linemates changed a little, although he still played as the third line a lot of the time. He seemed to respond to the changes with a much better second half than first half, but for the second year in a row, the points dried up in the playoffs. I think he needs a new challenge, but he can get that on Lokomotiv with a bigger role. So far they have not extended Brandon Kozun, so it’s possible there is finally a top line winger spot opening up on the team. If not, at least a full-time second line role is crucial to his development.
The fact is, Korshkov is likely making more money where he is compared to an AHL salary, and if we’re to speculate why he’s staying, that may be the most basic reason why. Lokomotiv, incidentally, also just extended one of Korshkov’s regular linemates.
This means, though, that his first season in North America would be his age-23 season, around the time where he should really be knocking on the NHL door if he’s going to make it. Let’s hope for a big year out of Yegor this season with Lokomotiv.
Updated with a quote from the man himself:
Yegor Korshkov: Leafs were OK with my decision but obviously weren’t glad. My position is I should have a leading role in Lokomotiv to leave the KHL. Who knows, maybe in a year I will reach my goal #tmltalk— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) April 28, 2018
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