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Scouting Report: Toronto Maple Leafs’ Nikita Grebyonkin is a low-risk, high-reward prospect

Nikita Grebyonkin
Photo credit:KHL
Steven Ellis
1 month ago
Few Toronto Maple Leafs prospects get the diehards as excited as Nikita Grebyonkin gets them.
And it’s understandable. Drafted 135th overall in 2022 as an overager, Grebyonkin has emerged as a youngster with a bright future – and it’s looking all the more likely that he’s bound for North America sooner rather than later.
Grebyonkin recently completed his 2023-24 KHL regular season with a career-best 19 goals and 41 points with Metallurg Magnitogorsk. He had 26 points in 52 games last year between Magnitogorsk and Amur as a 20-year-old, helping make a name for himself as a potential late-blooming steal.
Magnitogorsk is hoping for a long post-season run – they finished second overall behind Dynamo Moskva for the KHL regular season title. And it’s not like Grebyonkin was a passenger by any means – he finished second in team scoring behind coveted Minnesota Wild prospect Danila Yurov, who had 49 points.
To put it in perspective, Grebyonkin finished third in U-21 scoring this season behind Yurov and Philadelphia Flyers phenom Matvei Michkov. Only Ilya Ivantsov and Dmitri Katelevsky played more games than Grebyonkin, which is a testament on its own, given how hard it is for younger players to get much ice time.
And for more context, the KHL is a low-scoring league, with goalie stats looking downright insane compared to the NHL. For reference, 15 goalies had a save percentage of .925 or better this year. Only Vegas’ Adin Hill (.927) is better in the NHL.
So what Grebyonkin did this year is great, and now he’s looking like one of Toronto’s best prospects in a pipeline lacking true scoring depth.
The 6-foot-2, 192-pound winger is a strong playmaker, seeing the ice well and finding his teammates on the rush. He has good speed, but is just as effective in slow bursts in tight situations. One of the biggest areas of improvement is his net-front game. Whether it’s making a pass or just getting in the way, Grebyonkin holds his own. He’s not one to shove guys around and create a ruckus, though.
Grebyonkin loves having the puck on his stick. He can be creative in 1-on-1 situations, doing his best to deke guys out and create a chance. I still think he’s better as a setup guy, especially when paired with a speedy, skilled shooter. I also personally love how Grebyonkin cycles the puck – he’s able to shrug off shoves from bigger players, keep the play alive around the boards and then rush to the net in an attempt to get something on net.
“Things just seemed to happen a lot with him with the puck this year,” a scout said. “From the get-go, he looked comfortable and confident.”
There’s still a lot of room to grow for him as a player. He’s trending to be more of a complementary player who can get some work done in the middle six, but probably isn’t going to blow the doors off offensively. Grebyonkin has gotten physically stronger, but he skates awkwardly and can get pushed around too much for someone with his frame.
That being said, he’s in a great spot right now.
Grebyonkin has proven to be an excellent value pickup for a team with a fledging pipeline. His KHL contract is up at the end of the season and join the Toronto Marlies for the playoff push. At the very least, coming over and just being close to the organization doesn’t hurt before going full-time in the AHL in 2024-25. Grebyonkin could easily establish himself as a leader immediately, and maybe even a call-up sooner rather than later.
There’s no reason to rush Grebyonkin. His pro experience already at his age is a plus, but the North American game is different. The Leafs will need to help him clean up his skating and make quicker moves in the fast-paced, physical NHL.
But, hey, not bad for a re-entry pickup.

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