When the Carolina Hurricanes acquired young forward Egor Korshkov earlier this season, many were surprised that the Toronto Maple Leafs had surrendered the skilled prospect in exchange for a recently-waived rental in Alex Galchenyuk. Well, perhaps the Leafs had some doubts about Korhskov’s commitment to the NHL and were thus willing to move on from the multi-talented forward despite his potential. Despite his entry-level contract contract coming to an end and seemingly having the opportunity to join a new NHL club on a fresh deal this summer, Korshkov will go in a different direction. The KHL’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl has announced a one-year contract extension with Korshkov, who played on loan with the team in 2020-21.
Korshkov, 24, was a second-round pick by the Maple Leafs in 2016 and made the jump to North America just two years later. In his first full season away from Russia, Korshkov did not look out of place, recording 16 goals and 25 points in 44 AHL games and even earning his NHL debut and scoring his first goal in that lone game. Korshkov even earned a role on Toronto’s playoff bubble roster last year, though he did not make an appearance. Yet, the minute that Korskov could make an excuse to return overseas, citing a need for play time due to a premature end to his AHL season due to COVID-19 and no NHL playoff action, he secured a loan to Yaroslavl, where he had played for seven years before joining the Leafs. With his loan coming to an end, one would have assumed that perhaps Korshkov would return to North America and try to get some experience with his new club, the Hurricanes. Instead, the restricted free agent will not only remain in Russia this spring, but for another whole season.
This of course raises doubts over whether Korshkov will ever become a realistic NHL option for the Hurricanes. Carolina will retain his RFA rights by making him a qualifying offer this summer, but if the young forward was not even willing to try to spend some time with the team this season and was quick to re-sign in the KHL, does he have much interest in an NHL career? Korshkov’s ability will certainly keep the ’Canes intrigued; the 6’4″ power forward recorded 17 goals and 34 points in 56 KHL games this season and has shown a knack for both physicality and production early in his career. However, Korshkov may only be just that – a KHL forward and an NHL “could have been”. Hopefully the young forward re-evaluates his career path next season and gives North America another chance.