The Toronto Maple Leafs have loaned a pair of players to the KHL. One is a short term loan and the other will be for a full season.
Lehtonen Loaned Back to KHL
The Maple Leafs prized european free agent signing Mikko Lehtonen has been loaned back to Jokerit of the KHL. Lehtonen signed with the Maple Leafs after leading the KHL in points among defensemen. This past season he recorded 17 goals and 32 assists for 49 points in 60 games for Jokerit.
Loaning him back to the KHL makes sense as the NHL will have a delayed start to the 2020-21 season. The Maple Leafs want him to be playing meaningful games and not just training and waiting. The KHL plans to start their 2020-21 season on September 2nd, 2020. This would allow for Lehtonen to play two months of competitive hockey before needing to report to Toronto for training camp in November.
Korshkov to the KHL for 2020-21 Season
Egor Korshkov will play for Lokomotiv in the KHL next season. The 24 year old is in the first year of his Entry Level Contract (ELC). By playing in the KHL during the 2020-21 season, his three year ELC becomes a two year ELC. This means that after this upcoming season, Korshkov will become a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) with arbitration rights and will be waiver exempt.
If the Maple Leafs want to sign Korshkov to play the 2021-22 season in the NHL, they will be able to sign him to a deal that doesn’t need to meet the ELC minimum ($925,000). Something they would have to do with a 25 year old Russian Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA). Instead, they can sign him to the NHL minimum of ($750,000). With the NHL salary cap staying flat for the next few seasons, those savings could come in handy if Korshkov returns.
Final Thoughts on Toronto Loans to KHL
Allowing Lehtonen to play meaningful games ahead of the 2020-21 NHL season is a smart move by the Maple Leafs. This will also allow Lehtonen to arrive to training camp in game shape. He is projected to be a top four defenseman for the Maple Leafs.
As for Korshkov, he never really seemed to find his game over here in North America. Hopefully playing a full season in the KHL will help him reastablish himself. If he does return to the Maple Leafs and they can sign him for $750,000 instead of $925,000, that could be huge.
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