Artur Akhtyamov is in Toronto, but that doesn’t mean a signing is imminent

You know it’s June because we’re scrambling to report on the sighting of a late-round goaltending prospect visiting Toronto with his agent.

Now, this is wonderfully vague and noncommittal. This could be a player (who last time we checked) is under contract in the KHL next season just visiting the city of the team that holds his NHL rights. He could be laying down the groundwork for coming over to Toronto next season and wants to visit the Leafs facilities, meet with player development folks, and probably visit Canada’s Wonderland. It stands to reason that he’d be doing a lot of that with his agent, who is also likely acting as his interpreter a lot of time. (Also Dan Milstein looks like he’d be fun to spend a day with at an amusement park.)

There is of course the other option, the one that we all had our minds go to first, and that is the possibility of Akhtyamov signing. That’s tougher because of the whole KHL contract things, but to say the state of communication between the NHL and KHL is strained at the moment is an understatement. Here’s basically where they are at for honouring contracts:

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“We will have only limited contractual information regarding players who are currently or last played in the KHL,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly wrote in the memo.

In order to sign a player from the KHL, the interested NHL team must inquire with Central Registry to inquire if the last information available from the KHL demonstrates that the player is on an expiring KHL contract, and teams must produce “independent written evidence demonstrating that the player is entirely free of any and all potentially conflicting contractual obligations in the KHL for 2022-23 and beyond.”

NHL teams are free to continue to communicate with their Russian players and or prospects, and with their North American-based agents.

Now breaking contracts in the KHL does happen, but we have no evidence of that yet. This is likely just a player with a year left on his deal trying to weigh his options and with a Leafs prospect camp likely on the horizon shortly after the draft, there is the potential he could be involved in that (again that’s a big IF given the complexity of the situation.)

For now, it’s just cool to see that the Leafs might be bringing Akhtyamov into their system at some point. We’ll see if anything more comes of it than a nice photo of two dudes enjoying an evening on the town.

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