Leafs prospect Ovchinnikov breaks off Russian contract to return to Toronto
Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Dmitry Ovchinnikov is breaking off his contract in the KHL to head over to North America.
Per his agent Shumi Babaev, Ovchinnikov is en route to Canada to join the Leafs organization, presumably joining the Toronto Marlies within the coming days, with a shot of making the NHL.
“Dmitry Ovchinnikov terminated the agreement with Sibir and flew away to Canada to fitful [sic] his 3-year contract with Maple Leafs organization,” Babaev tweeted earlier today.
Dmitry Ovchinnikov terminated agreement with Sibir and flew away to Canada to fitful his 3-year contract with Maple Leafs organisation @TorontoMarlies @MapleLeafs
— Shumi Babaev Agency (@BabayevShumi) March 16, 2023
Ovchinnikov was originally picked by the Leafs in the fifth round of the 2020 draft, being taken at 137th overall, and is on the second-year of his entry-level deal.
In 68 games with Novosibirsk Sibir this season in the KHL, Ovchinnikov has five goals and eight assists for a total of 13 points this season, to go along with 13 penalty minutes.
Last season with the Marlies, he played seven games following the conclusion of his KHL season, picking up two goals.
“My ultimate goal is to be a player in the best league in the world. But before that, I need to do my best in the KHL, become a solid full-time player here, get points, develop my game,” Ovchinnikov said in a 2021 interview with the KHL website. “There’s always room for improvement in terms of speed, shot, quick decision making. I need to improve every day, and that’s what I’m practicing and playing for. My biggest dream is to play in the best league, in the NHL.”
“The ability that he has to turn on a dime, and then blow past defenders is very similar to Mat Barzal where he can make a quick shoulder drop that looks to be almost in slow motion, and then blow past an opposing player. This skill is something that you rarely find in projected 4th to 7th round picks,” Dr. Tee Scouting wrote in a 2020 pre-draft report.
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