The first round of the 2016 NHL Draft went just about as expected. Auston Matthews went first overall to the Leafs, Patrik Laine went second to the Jets, and despite some surprises such as Pierre-Luc Dubois going third overall to columbus, Dennis Cholowski going 20th overall to Detroit, and Henrik Borgstrom going 23rd overall to Florida, it was pretty straight forward. Heading into the second round, however, there were some players that were projected first rounders who had been passed on such as Alex DeBrincat, Vitali Ambramov, and Kale Clague. Everyone expected the Leafs to take one of these players, but instead they went slightly off the board and took big Russian forward Yegor Korshkov.
Now, Leafs fans might have been confused seeing that they went with someone completely off the board when they could have had anyone else, but Korshkov is a good pick. He spent last season playing in the KHL for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL, so he already has experience playing against men. He has an exemplary combination of size and skill, standing at 6'4 and 179lbs. He put up 12 points in 41 games for Lokomotiv this season, great totals for somebody of his age. He was also the leading scorer on Team Russia this year, putting up eight points in seven games for the silver medal finishing Russians. Experts were immediately praising this pick and saying that Korshkov could potentially push for a spot on the Maple Leafs roster this season, but those rumors were soon shot down as Korshkov planned to return to the KHL for another season. Korshkov won't attend Leafs development camp and will remain in Russia until next season.
So, let's talk a little bit about the type of player Korshkov is. Put simply, he's a straight power forward. He lacks muscle, but he's big enough to throw the body and does a great job of getting to the net. He makes smart plays on the ice and has a knack for scoring goals from in close, but has a good shot as well. He's a good skater and was one of Team Russia's best players at the World Juniors in 2016. Korshkov is an exciting young talent who has impressed against players much older than him already and he could potentially be a solid power forward at the NHL level.
PLAYER COMPARABLE: David Backes
NHL experts compared Korshkov's game to that of Backes' because of his willingness to go to the dirty areas and score goals from in tight. He plays with an edge to his game and he's not afraid to throw the body, but also has good offensive skills and plays a reliable defensive game. If he pans out, he could potentially be a solid middle six forward for the Maple Leafs.
NHL ETA: 2018-19
Korshkov won't be in the NHL this year or the AHL for that matter, but if he has a successful season in the KHL then he will likely be brought over from Russia to have one season in the AHL to develop and adjust to the North American ice, and then be given a crack at the roster in two years because of the log jam in prospect depth at left wing and players farther along in their development than Korshkov is. Either way, he'll likely be given an extended look after one year in the AHL.