There is a report out of Russia this morning that Egor Korshkov will be returning to play in the KHL for the 2020-21 season.
— vorky (@vorkywh24) July 26, 2020
Let’s start with the necessary grain of salt required for any report out of Russia. The track record is spotty at best, and it’s important to remember that Korshkov has both an agent in Russia and North America, and it is also possible that this is a bit of posturing.
The fact that this news is coming less than a day after Korshkov not making the Leafs playoff roster isn’t much of a surprise either. And while we don’t know what is happening with the AHL as of yet, most of the European leagues seem interested in starting back up on schedule. This could mean Korshkov plays sooner, and more in 2020-21, while the Leafs would still retain his rights.
That right retention is the point where I’m comfortable in calling some BS on this report, as Korshkov does have another year of his entry level deal with the Leafs, and it would keep him in North America for 2020-21. I’m not sure why the Leafs are looking to cut loose a player that could find their way into the lineup in 2020-21, and his low cap hit will probably guarantee that he gets a bit more of a look in the future.
The Leafs could potentially loan him for the year, but when he returns he would be a free agent, and potentially a costly one depending on how his year in Russia goes. Again, it might be worth it to get him playing as much hockey as possible, but none of this seems like a good idea and not the smartest asset management, especially given Korshkov’s injury history.
There is also the human factor to consider. Korshkov is North America, away from his family and friends in the middle of a pandemic. This has to be even more isolating for him. Letting him return to Russia might be the considerate thing for the Leafs to do in this situation, even if it doesn’t benefit the team as much as it does the player.
We’ll wait and see if anything comes of this, but for now we’re left wondering what’s happening with one of the Leafs most controversial draft picks of the last decade.