“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.
|Jeff||Ryan H.||Shawn||Ryan F.||Adam||Dom||Jess||Katy||Readers|
This is Korshkov’s first pre-season in the organization.
|RW||Novosibirsk, RUS||6’3||179||Left||Yaroslavl Lokomotiv||2016 Draft (2-31st)|
|2012-13||16||Lokomotiv U17||Russia U17||33||22||25||47||N/A||60||N/A|
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.
|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
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.
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.
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.