In a late night edition of “this could be nothing, this could be everything”, an astute observation has been made by freelance hockey journalist and Russian hockey specialist Alessandro Seren Rosso this morning:
— AlessandroSerenRosso (@AlexSerenRosso) June 3, 2017
Sure enough, a quick look at the CSKA Moscow page on KHL.ru does indeed have Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Alexey Marchenko, ex-Leafs prospect as of not even 48 hours ago Nikita Korostelev, and Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Egor Babenko on its roster, none of whom played for them this year.
It should be noted that all three players are technically CSKA property within the confines of the KHL. Babenko was drafted by the team in 2014, Marchenko spent four seasons playing for them between 2009/10 to 2012/13, and they acquired the rights to Korostelev in exchange for fringe prospect Boris Levitsky in September 2016.
Igor Eronko of Sport-Express reported back in April that the Kontinental Hockey League powerhouse was interested in bringing back Marchenko, along with some other names (including Nikita Zaitsev, who promptly signed a seven-year extension in Toronto).
Even still, I’m not sure how much I’d look into this. The three players have been on the roster for over 48 hours according to Google Cache, with no followup story in sight. There is nothing about any of the three players on CSKA’s official website, including their version of the roster. Moreover, the NHL and KHL have long agreed to follow along with each other’s contracts to avoid a situation like Alexander Radulov’s, when he originally left the league to duck out of the last year of his entry-level contract with Nashville.
The 25-year-old Marchenko still has one more year left with the Maple Leafs, signed at $1.45 million. While the move might make sense for him (regular minutes are doubtful next year and it could allow for him to play in the Olympics), there are just too many oddities to dive all in. This could perhaps be something to watch out for, but I wouldn’t consider this done just yet.