The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed Pavel Gogolev to a three-year, entry-level contract. Gogolev spent part of this season with the Toronto Marlies after going undrafted out of the OHL, but has now earned an NHL contract.
In 2019-20, Gogolev was one of only six players in the OHL to record at least 40 goals and 85 points, finishing with 45 and 96 in his final year with the Guelph Storm. Despite that, the Russian forward still wasn’t drafted, and started this season playing in the Swedish second tier. After 12 games there, he signed an AHL contract with the Marlies and showed just how good his offensive skills can be. In 13 minor league games he scored six goals and 12 points.
Now, under an entry-level contract, Gogolev doesn’t need to worry about the next step in his development or where he’ll play in 2021-22. If the Maple Leafs want to take advantage of the top-end puck skills that the young forward possesses, there needs to be a lot of work put into the defensive side of the game. That’s worth the gamble at the moment, but an ELC doesn’t mean that Gogolev will be given a chance at the NHL level. In fact, he likely won’t unless his game away from the puck improves dramatically.
After a busy day yesterday adding depth to the organization, the Maple Leafs are now at 43 of their allotted 50 NHL contracts. They felt secure enough to use one of those spots on the 21-year-old Gogolev, now he’ll need to show them it wasn’t a mistake.