Leafs prospect Nikita Grebyonkin seemingly gets green light to come to North America
By Alex Hobson25 days ago
If you’ve read any articles about Leafs prospects recently, chances are it’s either been about Fraser Minten or Easton Cowan. The two players just represented Canada at the World Juniors, and as recent early-round picks of the Leafs (38th and 28th overall respectively), they’re naturally going to get most of the attention.
One prospect fans should start to keep tabs on if they haven’t already is 2022 fifth-round pick Nikita Grebyonkin. With a healthy mix of size, skill, and nastiness, his style of play bodes well for someone looking to crack the NHL sooner rather than later. If you want to see a little sneak peek of some of that snot, check out this video of him throwing down with a defenceman ten years older than him in defence of his teammate.
Needless to say, if it was just about snot, I don’t think the Leafs would be under pressure to bring him over. But on top of that, the 6-foot-2 winger has 31 points in 55 games for Metallurg Magnitogorsk, which, for a 20-year-old, is some really nice production. Physically, he’s already there, given that he’s already in his second season playing against grown men, so to have the offensive production there as well is icing on the cake.
One of the main worries when it comes to drafting Russian players, especially those who go in the middle-to-late rounds, is whether or not they’ll even be interested in coming to the NHL. Metallurg coach Sergei Mozyakin was quoted recently that the club “doesn’t mind” when players leave to cross the pond, citing Grebyonkin and Minnesota Wild prospect Danila Yurov, who’s leading the team in points.
While this isn’t a firm report that he’s going to be leaving for the NHL after this season, it certainly bodes well for the Leafs’ hopes should they try to summon him to Toronto next season. I’d imagine that the Leafs want to get him over to get him into some games with the Toronto Marlies pretty soon, but whether next season is the time to do that is up to Grebyonkin himself. It’s also not Mozyakin’s specific call to make, there would be input from the GM too.
Either way, Grebyonkin has quickly gone from a mid-round project prospect to someone who could possibly help the team out sooner rather than later. Even if he stays in Russia for one more year, the fact that he’s only 20 years old leaves them with lots of time to let him develop. This quote will be an interesting one to revisit when approach the offseason, but that’s a ways away, so let’s just enjoy the ride for now.
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