New Leafs prospect Nikita Soshnikov is prepared to develop in the minors

Andrey Osadchenko
March 24 2015 09:18AM

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 11.15.45 AM
(Courtesy: KHL)

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ newest signing raised quite a few eyebrows at both sides of the Atlantic.

21-year-old Nikita Soshnikov signed a 3-year entry-level contract with the organization last week, and will come to town next season. Soshnikov has 93 KHL games under his belt (all with Atlant), 17 goals and 38 points. Notably, this was his first full pro season, partially due to his club’s financial problems.

“It’s been my dream to play in the NHL, so that was my main reason to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs," said Soshnikov to TASS reporter Mikhail Zislis. "I didn’t care about the money or anything else. My parents were really supportive. They said I should go while I’m still young. I had an offer to stay in Russia for another year."

Read past the jump for more.

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Grabovski’s insurance can force him to sign with CSKA

Andrey Osadchenko
September 21 2012 01:24PM

Mikhail Grabovski hasn’t signed with any KHL team yet, despite numerous reports that suggested he’d play for either Dinamo Minsk or Barys Astana or even CSKA. The Maple Leafs forward was as surprised to learn about his transatlantic vocation as anybody.

"I have no idea where did this Sport-Express reporter get information about me signing with Dinamo," he said in an interview to Pressball. "Sport-Express loves stuff like that. They reported that Malkin would sign with CSKA like 10 times. My situation is still uncertain. I only know that I want to play and I have a few offers. I don’t know how it’s going to pan out. My agent is working hard on it as we speak. I can assure you I’m going to stay in Toronto for at least one week and practice here. Sure, I would like to play in Minsk. But at the same time I'd rather have lockout ended."

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A "Mikhail Grabovski to KHL" update

Andrey Osadchenko
September 18 2012 12:30PM

Earlier this morning (or afternoon if live on the other side of Atlantic ocean) top Russian newspaper Sport-Express reported that Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski is about to sign a lockout contract with Dinamo Minsk. However, two respectful Belorussian media outlets suggest the deal is far from being over and they have quotes to back it up.

‘Mikhail is stuck at the crossroads. He doesn’t know what to do. Nobody knows anything for sure and he doesn’t think it makes any sense to go play somewhere else for a month,’ said Yuri Grabovski, Mikhail’s father, in his interview to Goals.By. ‘I would like to see my son play for his native club – Yunost. However, [Yunost head-coach] Mikhail Zakharov said he has nothing to do there. To be honest with you, I’m against these short-term contracts.’

Yunost currently plays in VHL – a farm league for KHL clubs. Its notable alumni include the Kostitsyn brothers. Zakharov in one of his interviews this summer made it clear both Andrei and Sergei as well as Grabovski should sign with Dinamo Minsk come the lockout, no matter how much they wanted to play for Yunost.

Nevertheless, it appears there’s another fish lurking in KHL waters for Grabovski.

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Kulemin: Toronto or Magnitogorsk?

Andrey Osadchenko
September 01 2012 10:49AM

With September the 15th approaching fast, NHL players can’t help but start looking at their respective plan Bs. For some of them, like Nikolai Kulemin, finding a new place with a fat paycheque won’t be a problem.

The Leafs winger was born in Magnitogorsk, Russia and began his pro career with the local Metallurg. His agent Gary Grinstein recently said via Sovetsky Sport that his client is more than likely to spend the season in his hometown if the lockout occurs.

‘Metallurg Magnitogorsk, who owns Nikolai’s rights in the KHL, has already stated they are interested in him,’ said Grinstein. ‘However, nobody wants another lockout. So the battle will go on until the 15th of September. If the lockout happens, Nikolai will play in Magnitogorsk. I’m not going to lie, though, he has a few other offers from the KHL.’

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Leo Komarov on the KHL and his playing style

Andrey Osadchenko
July 08 2012 08:10AM

Leo Komarov has been in Toronto the last couple of weeks for Maple Leafs prospect camp. Our own Andrey Osadchenko was able to catch up with him and discussed a little with Leo about his playing style ( more on that can be read here ), the rumours that Komarov is planning to return to the KHL, and last season's Gagarin Cup Finals.

It seems it was only yesterday when you hoisted the Gagarin Cup wearing Dynamo Moscow jersey. You are now a Maple Leaf. Why did you decide to go overseas?

I wanted to come here even last year. We agreed with [Dynamo’s coach] Oleg Znarok that I would spend another year in Moscow. And we won the Cup. My contract with Dynamo is good for another year but they let me go.

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