Yegor Korshkov is another prospect on our list who has fallen back a bit in our rankings since last season, when we optimistically put him as the 9th best prospect in the organization. I can’t speak to everyone’s reasoning for dropping Korshkov back, but I’m willing to guess that since he hasn’t arrived in North America yet is a factor, as is the fact that there have been some excited new players added in the 2018 draft who have caught our eyes.
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Korshkov dropped from 9th in 2017 to 14th this year
In 2016 the Leafs not only had the chance to open the first round by selecting Auston Matthews, but they had the opportunity to review the selections of the opening night, and pick the best available player left at the start of the second round. Alex DeBrincat was the name that stuck out the most, but cases were made for players like Samuel Girard, Jordan Kyrou, Carter Hart, and Jonathan Dahlen as well. Personally, I would have been happy with Carl Grundstrom there was well, but funny how that worked out. Anyway, with a number of first round caliber players still available, the Leafs opted to go off the board on a Russian overager, who already had over 60 games of KHL experience to his name.
Korshkov is a 22 year old, left shooting Russian winger who is listed at 6’4 and 181 lbs. It’s safe to say the Leafs are still looking for him to add a little more bulk to his frame. Yegor now has four seasons of KHL experience to his name, and between the regular season and playoffs has played 181 games in what could be argued as the second best hockey league in the world after the NHL. While some of us will look at who could have been picked and hold a grudge against the organization, it’s worth noting that Korshkov seems to be on a steady path to the NHL, if that’s where he wants to be.
The upward trend in points, minutes, and shifts is encouraging, and the stability of the shooting percentage gives us a good idea of what Korshkov is in that regard, which apparently is not a sniper. The fact that Korshkov has two powerplay goals in his KHL career, and neither of them in his most recent season should make it clear he won’t be getting much work in that regard at the NHL level either, although everything about him seems like a penalty killer.
As mentioned above, this was a year of progress for Korshkov, although no giant leaps or breakthroughs that inspire a lot excitement around Korshkov in Leafs Land. He was named to the Russian National “B” team, and that’s nothing to scoff at.
Korshkov is establishing himself as one of the better two-way wingers in Russia, and with his speed and size, he seems like he’ll continue to be a very serviceable player as he enters what should be the prime of his career.
Has His Progress Been As Expected?
If you were expecting to be proven wrong about wanting Girard, Hart, or DeBrincat, then Korshkov’s progress will leave you wanting. If you decided to be mad at the Leafs for making the pick instead of the player, than you have to be pleased with the progress that Korshkov has been making. His speed, reach, and hockey sense have always been good, but as his icetime goes up, he’s shown that he can produce more offensively as well. I know getting excited about a 3rd line winger seems like a challenge, but I do believe that Korshkov is well on his way to being the exact kind of 3rd line winger you’d want to see. He seems like he’d be able to also serve in a Zach Hyman type of role as well, if needed.
As Seen on TV
The list of Russians that we can compare Korshkov to is long and distinguished. I’ll start with the most favourable comparison and say that in a perfect world the Leafs will have drafted the next Vladimar Krutov, and that would probably be what would make the pick entirely worth while. Korshkov becoming the physical, two-way force on a top line would be ideal, but that’s an incredibly high bar. It would also be too early to make Kulemin, Ponikarovsky, or any other comparisons that come natural due to nationality and familiarity, but we’re doing that, Nikita Soshnikov is probably the safest bet.
Korshkov might not have the edge of Tomas Holmstrom, Justin Abdelkader, or Johan Franzen, but it’s incredibly likely that with Mike Babcock as the Leafs Head Coach, that the role Korshkov would play in the Leafs top nine would be similar to the roles those players filled on Babcock’s Wings teams.
And I’ve already mentioned Zach Hyman, but it seems fair to mention him again here, for those of you who are skimming this.
Korshkov chose to stay largely because of the opportunity for a bigger role in 2018-19, and it seems reason to expect that will happen. It also seems likely that if he continues to produce at the same level or improves with the increased responsibility the Leafs will be pleased. Yegor may also be capable of stepping up to challenge for a spot on Russia’s World Hockey Championship team next spring, which would be a huge achievement, but by no means expected of him at this point.
If all goes well, you’d hope that this would be Korshkov’s last year in the KHL and he’ll end his season with an entry level deal with the Leafs and he could challenge for an NHL job in 2019-20.