Heading in the right direction. Yegor Korshkov looks like a player the Toronto Maple Leafs could use in the future. Photo: Bildbyrån/Joel Marklund

Maple Leafs’ Russian prospect looks ready for North America

When he was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second day of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Yegor Korshkov wasn’t keen on moving overseas yet: “I wouldn’t go right now”, Korshkov told Alexei Shevchenko in a 2016 interview for the popular Russian website Sport-Express. “I’m under contract [in the KHL], but it’s not only that. I think that it’s early for me to move overseas. I would be sent to the AHL right away, but I think that it’s better for me to play in the KHL,” he explained.

Now, in 2018, Korshkov is in his fourth season in the KHL. His production is growing along with his his ice-time. He has mostly been playing with his long-time partners Alexander Polunin and Winnipeg Jets’ prospect Pavel Kraskovsky in Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. This line was very strong at the WJC a couple of years ago, when they helped team Russia to a silver medal at the tournament in Finland.

The trio was supposed to be the main force for their Lokomotiv Yaroslavl this season, but something didn’t work out, Lokomotiv wasn’t doing well in the standings and their head coach Alexei Kudashov was sacked. Former CSKA Moscow coach Dmitri Kvartalnov was hired in place of Kudashov, but the trio wasn’t reunited as Korshkov is now playing mostly with Kraskovsky and Daniil Apalkov.

The coaching change worked out for both Lokomotiv and Korshkov. The franchise is now the fourth seed in the Western Conference, and Korshkov has become more of a scoring threat for the team, totaling 25 points in 51 regular season games. On top of that, he has also played internationally with Russia’s second national team. His strong play of late means he will have a chance to play another Euro Hockey Tournament before the World Championships in Denmark in May.

Korshkov was born in Novosibirsk, but moved to Kazakhstan as his father Alexei played several years there, eventually gaining citizenship and gearing up for Team Kazakhstan at a couple of IIHF events. Korshkov started playing pro very early, skating for Barys Astana’s second team in the Kazakh league, and his father played until he was 38. The two actually played against each other in Kazakhstan:
“It was my first pro game”, Korshkov recalls while speaking to Shevchenko. “I was trying to advance on the wing, but then my dad didn’t allow me to go on. He hit me and told to keep my head up.”

With these premises, it’s not hard to imagine how Korshkov became this elusive, yet fearless player. He has a style that can translate very well to the physically more demanding North American game. Korshkov likes to play the puck and his size helps him in that. In the NHL he will probably have less space to maneuver, but players like him, with his size and skating ability, are hard to stop when they pick up speed. A good goal-scorer with a great nose for the net, Korshkov is also tuning up his passing abilities, as confirmed by the 17 assists he has in the KHL this far.

Korshkov got his big body from his father, who was 6’5”, 250 lbs when he was playing pro hockey. Yegor is an inch shorter and a bit leaner (187 lbs), but his size helps him a lot to protect the puck and score highlight-reel goals, like he did in the 2016 WJC semifinals against the US. He approached the net on the right wing, protected the puck with his body as he got closer to the crease and outsmarted goalie Alex Nedeljkovic depositing the puck in the net between the post and the goalie’s left pad. This kind of play have become kind of a signature move for Korshkov, and there is little doubt that he can repeat it in Toronto, considering his ability in protecting the puck, his size, and his strong skating.

“I want to play in the NHL and win the Stanley Cup,” Korshkov told shaiba.kz when he was just 15 and still playing in Kazakhstan. His contract with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl will run out next April 30th. This may very well be the right moment for him to move.


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NHL Prospects Yegor Korshkov
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