The Leafs have officially recalled Nikita Soshnikov today, sending Freddie Gauthier back to the Marlies. This was an expected move after Pierre LeBrun reported the details of Soshnikov’s contract last week:
Nikita Soshnikov, who has yet to appear in a game this season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, instead spending all his time with the Marlies, has a clause in his contract that would allow him to return to the KHL on loan, potentially for the reminder of the season, if he’s not called up by the Maple Leafs by Nov. 14.
You can find a much more detailed breakdown of this callup here, which deals with the issues of wing depth, possible trades, the likely Gauthier demotion, as well as if makes more sense to just send him to the KHL, the cliff note version is that:
  • depth is good
  • it’s better to see what they have in him before sending him to the KHL
  • the Leafs will likely trade a winger at some point but there isn’t any rush
  • Gauthier is easy to send down because he doesn’t require waivers and the Leafs don’t have a shortage of players who can play center
If you are interested in weighing the pros and cons of Nikita Soshnikov remaining with the Leafs, Jacob Stoller has the rundown for you. He also examines the current state of the Marlies forward group:
Andreas Johnsson, Kerby Rychel, Ben Smith, Dmytro Timashov and Jeremy Bracco, among others, round out a talented group of wingers that join Soshnikov on a crowded Marlies team, reducing the number of reps Soshnikov will get as he tries to work his way back up to the NHL.
“It’s hard to get minutes for everybody,” said Keefe. “You try to find guys that stand out on that particular night and give them their opportunities that day. But each day is kind of different. It seems to be someone different (performing well) each night.”
The surplus of talented forwards has resulted in Soshnikov playing middle six minutes in the AHL, but that hasn’t stopped Soshnikov from recording eight points in his first 10 contests, while also being an integral component to the team’s power play and penalty kill.
Basically this is the Leafs living up to their end of the contract and bringing Soshnikov up. I imagine he’ll get some playing time especially since Babcock seems to be quite fond of him, he’s very likely the 14th forward for the foreseeable future.