TLN Top 20 Prospects 2016: #17 Yegor Korshkov

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“Wait, seriously?” was the cry of a lot of Leafs fans when management leaned into the microphone and selected Yegor Korshkov with the first pick of the 2016 Draft’s second day back in June. It wasn’t so much that people thought that he couldn’t play, but rather that there were others who had scored more and filled more highlight reels over the few months leading to the draft. Not to mention, Korshkov was an overager in his second draft year, leaving many feeling like the Leafs may have jumped the gun.

I felt the same way at the time, and there are probably a few players who were on the board that I would’ve rather gone after. But once you take a bigger look at Korshkov’s skill set and development path, the move makes a bit more sense.

The Votes

Jeff Ryan H. Shawn Ryan F. Adam Dom Jess Katy Readers
12 19 12 18 16 18 14 N/A 15

This is Korshkov’s first pre-season in the organization.

Player Bio

Position Hometown Height Weight Hand 2015 Team Acquired
RW Novosibirsk, RUS 6’3 179 Left Yaroslavl Lokomotiv 2016 Draft (2-31st)

The Stats

 SEASON Age TEAM LEAGUE GP G A TP NHLe PIM +/-
 2011-12 15  Barys Astana-2  Kazakhstan 32 6 10 16 N/A 22 -44
 2012-13 16  Lokomotiv U17   Russia U17 33 22 25 47 N/A 60 N/A
 2013-14 17  Loko Yaroslavl  MHL 43 12 10 22 6.91 22 20
 2014-15 18  Lokomotiv Yaroslavl  KHL 24 1 2 3 7.5 4 -1
 2014-15 18  Loko Yaroslavl  MHL 23 13 15 28 11.09 18 14
 2015-16 19  Lokomotiv Yaroslavl  KHL 41 6 6 12 17.56 23 1
 2015-16 19  Loko Yaroslavl  MHL 4 2 4 6 20.25 6 3

On the surface, Korshkov’s numbers, quite frankly, look terrible. It’s very easy to look at this, say “what the heck is this crap?” and exit the window. But it’s worth keeping in mind that the Russian developmental model isn’t quite the same as it is in North America.

In short, if you’re as young as Korshkov is, consider yourself lucky that they’re even letting you play in the league. Yes, you have obvious talents like Evgeny Kuznetsov and Vladimir Tarasenko who get the minutes right away, but the majority of teenaged talent in the KHL is dressed solely because the paperwork says they have to dress X amount of young players; many of these guys get geared up and don’t see shifts.

In Korshkov’s first KHL season, he played 5:54 per game for about a third of the season. That sounds like such a waste, doesn’t it? But the fact that Lokomotiv trusted him with that is already an accomplishment.

Last year, Korshkov’s all-situations Points Per 60 was 1.604, which is just outside top-six forward territory in the league. His production comparables for this year included the likes of Alexander Frolov, Maxim Afinogenov, and Sergei Kostitsyn. Using NHLe’s 0.8 equivalency for the KHL, you get an ASp60 of 1.28 in the NHL, which puts him in line with players like Joffrey Lupul, Jay Beagle, and Jake Virtanen.

Korshkov also likes to throw the body around (8.13 hits per 60 minutes over two years), though I suppose it’s possible that Yaroslavl is the Long Island of the KHL as far as tracking those stats. He draws a decent amount of penalties, blocks the occasional shot, and is good for about 5 shots on goal every 60 minutes.

Projection Stats

pGPSn pGPSs pGPS% pGPS PPG pGPS PP82 pGPSr
67 (7/18) 4 (16/18) 6.0% (18/18) 0.59 (8/18) 48.07 (8/18) 3.50 (18/18)

  • pGPSn: The number of matches between the subject and the player-seasons (one season by a single player, i.e, John Tavares 2008 OHL) in the historical sample.
  • pGPSs: The number of statistical matches that became NHL regulars. This is determined by playing 200 NHL games.
  • pGPS%: Simply s divided by n, this is the percentage of statistical matches that successfully became NHL players.
  • pGPS PPG: The NHL points per game of successful matches.
  • pGPS P82: The same as pGPS PPG, but stretched over 82 games.
  • pGPSr: A bit of a hybrid number, this pGPS Rating combines the percentage and points per game to produce a number that includes both likelihood of success and potential upside.

Based on the success of his historical comparables, Korshkov is projected to become a second line forward.

To learn more about the Prospect Graduation Probabilities System, check out this post.

The Eye Test

KHL digital broadcaster and occasional TLN contributor Andrey Osadchenko had this to say about Korshkov:

When you talk about Yegor Korshkov, you have talk about his entire line. Korshkov played with Alexander Polunin and Jets prospect Pavel Kraskovsky for the past few years and the trio really turned some heads last season. The entire line was selected to Team Russia for the World Juniors, winning silver medals in January.

They also got decent ice-time on Lokomotiv in the KHL and won the MHL championship later that spring. Playing on the right wing, Korshkov provided the line with a sturdy physical presence in key areas. Interestingly, Korshkov seemed to have better chemistry with left winger Polunin and not center Kraskovsky. Polunin is 5 inches shorter than Korshkov and has an entirely different approach to the game, while Kraskovsky was the “glue guy” on the line. In that sense, Korshkov’s story is similar to Nikita Kucherov’s and Artemi Panarin’s, who were also generally thought of as part of their lines and not as independent players. 

Korshkov is everything you look for in your typical Russian winger in terms of skill but he also has the size to go along with it. The big question is, though, is he going to be just as good once he put on a line with different players? While Kucherov and Panarin did well facing the challenge, history doesn’t always repeat itself.

As an individual, Korshkov is best known for his physical strength and willingness to throw around his body, but is also a more-than-adept playmaker and has maintained an above-average shooting percentage in each of his past two KHL seasons; perhaps an indication of his willingness to drive into high-danger areas.

As Seen on TV

The Buildup

Korshkov has always been a more highly-touted prospect. After putting up half a point a game in Kazakhstan at 15, Lokomotiv called in a loan for the player to have him play on their Under-17 team and liked him so much that they ended up drafting him 7th overall in the KHL draft at the end of the 2012/13 season.

Almost immediately, he was given minutes on Lokomotiv’s MHL team and ended up representing Russia at the U17 level. That turned into limited KHL minutes in his Age 18 season, and while he didn’t light up the score sheet, he showed that he was physically able to keep up with the big boys while spending the other half of his season scoring at a point-per-game pace in the MHL, including a successful playoffs. He also played at the World Juniors in Montreal/Toronto, picking up four assists.

Last year, his line saw their ice time go up by a significant amount, though they remained at about 11 minutes a game. This, combined with the fact that Lokomotiv is considered a highly defensive team (second in goals against in 2015/16) trying to win immediately, led to him seeing very limited special teams time and as a result only jumped to 12 points in 41 games. His MHL numbers were once again light’s out, though, following up a brief four-game stint in the regular season with 19 points in 15 playoff games. Once again, he represented Russia at the World Juniors and picked up 8 points in 7 games.

Next Season

Now that he and his linemates are 20, 19, and 19 respectively, it wouldn’t be a shocker to see them get another minute spike next season. Polunin and Kraskovsky both seem ready for more action at the KHL level as well, and there’s not exactly a lot of offensive firepower on the Lokomotiv roster (Petri Kontiola is considered high-octane for them). 

Korshkov needs to take advantage of the opportunity, both this year and next (his contract is through 2018) if he wants to make the jump. Building up his acceleration to be more suited to the North American ice is key, as is working on developing his offensive game. As long as he shows some semblance of commitment, though, I can’t see any of this being a huge problem.

Closing Thoughts

Ideally, Korshkov will eventually be the Leafs’ third line right winger. That’s not to typecast him as nothing more than a third liner, but I don’t think anybody is expecting him to be able to beat out Mitch Marner or William Nylander anytime soon. By the time Korshkov ready for the NHL, though, he could be in a position to take over for Leo Komarov. Not that they are the exact same player by any means, but their similarities as skilled play disruptors could lead to that natural evolution.

While some remain surprised that the Leafs picked the 20-year-old so high, it’s very clear that this is a player that has some upside to him, has the frame to harness it, and is going to spend two key years developing in the second best league in the world. There’s a value to playing against the best players you can, and this is the best situation possible for that right now.

The Rankings So Far

  • JB#1

    Just a question, how do you guys have a clue about these guys if you don’t actually go see them play? Not trolling, honest question. Its not like you spent months watching all the players.

    • There’s a lot of video, data, and secondary reports out there. Not even NHL scouting departments spend months zeroing in on all 200+ players selected in a draft class.

      It’s not hard to create an informed opinion as long as you’re looking for the right things. In fact, in the years of doing these rankings, I’d say that my biggest whiffs have come from over-valuing Marlies players because I watched them so much more than the European and Junior prospects. Over-watching can create a bias too.

      Also, speaking personally about this example, I’ve seen Korshkov live at the World Juniors and I watch a decent amount of KHL games (hence why I spent so much time talking about guys like Zaitsev and Golyshev throughout the season). Part of the reason I was the one to write this piece is because I’m familiar with the player.

      • That’s fair. I have an issue with those in the blogosphere who pretend to have all the answers and know the outcome of every draft eligible player (I think we all know who that is, not on this site). Good to see you guys put some honest effort into it.

  • Glad the leafs picked this guy. I think he’s skilled and big and it’s always good to have an international team. Psyched that he’s number 18 that means that we’ve got a deep pool, love this Leafs rebuild and LOVE LEAFS NATION WOOOO LETS GOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Hockey Hoser

        unless…Willie proves to Babs he can handle center, we may see something like this in the future.

        Matthews – Marner

        Nylander -Korshkov

        Sorry Brown. I really like you.

    • Gary Empey

      The game is evolving. A lot of coaches, not all, are moving away from traditional, 1st, 2nd, 3rd make up. What we are seeing looks more like three evenly balanced lines. All three with offensive and defensive attributes. The 4th line used for specialty situations.

    • Stan Smith

      According to research done by Scott Cullen the chances of a player drafted 31st playing at least 100 NHL games is only 34%. If Korshkov becomes a good 3rd line winger, or better yet, a top 6 guy like Komarov, how is that a terrible pick?

  • Brent Wisken

    That goal to me looks like a JVR type goal (yes, i know, it’s an unreasonable comparison). Although i was surprised by the draft pick at first, after reading this article, doing some research and watching some clips, i am actually pretty excited about the pick.

  • Hockey Hoser

    I had this guy top 10. I remember at 31 hoping the Leafs drafted Tyler Benson or Boris Katchouk and when I heard Yegor Korshkov, I was like WTF. Like most Leaf fans, I was confused and disappointed. The next Leaf pick at 57 I was hoping for Taylor Raddysh and I hear Carl Gundstrom. I was like what are they doing. The rest of the draft pretty much went like that. But after doing some research… I’m on board with Hunter. Korshkov and Gundstrom could be steals and I had them both at 5 and 6 on my top 20 prospects list ahead of Kapanen. Reasons skill, speed and toughness

  • FlareKnight

    I’m pretty ok with this guy. Can get the logic that the Leafs went with for this pick.

    Seem to be making a lot of efforts to mine areas that others are ignoring. Hopefully this pick works out as well as Hunter and company expected it to.