During his early-season visit to Russia, GM Kyle Dubas met with a couple of upcoming unrestricted free agents.
— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) October 14, 2019
Both forward Mikhail Grigorenko and defenceman Nikita Nesterov have had their fair share of experience in the NHL, but have found their services unwanted and have signed with their respective KHL teams.
Both players have been in Russia since the 2017-18 season.
For Grigorenko, the former Sabres first-round pick had a mediocre first season for CSKA Moscow but has recently been one of the premier forwards in the league. Since the start of the 2018-19 season, the 25-year-old has scored 22 goals, 67 points in 71 games played.
His most recent seasons in North America were spent being a depth forward for the Colorado Avalanche, averaging just under 14:00 TOI a game. During his time in Colorado, Grigorenko played 149 games to a tune of 16 goals and 50 points — not the most explosive offence, but he was a supplementary player after all.
When it comes to 26-year-old Nesterov, he was originally drafted by the Lightning, but then had a short stint with the Canadiens during his last year in the NHL. For the past three years, the lefty has played a total of 99 games for CSKA Moscow, scoring 9 goals and 44 points.
After the recent signing of Igor Ozhiganov, Par Lindholm and now-fan favourite Ilya Mikheyev, the Leafs appear to keep on exploring European free agents as cheap options to fill out their NHL roster.
Due to the massive percentage of the cap that their elite forwards take up, Toronto will keep on doing this every summer to hopefully get players signed to inexpensive contracts and out-produce their contracts.