Leafs facing a major issue with one of their top prospects

Mike Armenti
December 19, 2023  (2:47 PM)

Photo credit: KHL

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a relatively thin prospect pool after the departure of former Leafs GM Kyle Dubas, after Dubas had traded away a number of prospects and picks in recent years in an attempt to bolster his lineup for the playoffs.

Aside from the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the tragic passing of Rodion Amirov, the Leafs' 1st round pick from the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, the team has drafted in the first round just once in the past 5 drafts, this summer, selecting London Knights standout, Easton Cowan, under new Leafs GM Brad Treliving, who opted not to trade the pick, like his predecessor may have. As a result, the Leafs don't have the same spoils of riches cooking in the minors and in junior that other teams have.
Still, even with Dubas being allergic to picking in the first round, the Leafs do have some quality pieces coming out of round 2 and beyond, most notably Fraser Minten, Nick Robertson and Matthew Knies. There is one other name, though, who has been making waves overseas and maybe doesn't receive the hype that he deserves over in North America. Nikita Grebenkin/Grebyonkin.
Drafted in the 5th round of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft as an over-ager, Grebenkin has really made a name for himself in the KHL circuit with his elite vision, strong finishing ability and his ferocity. He possesses NHL size, at 6'2 and 192 pounds and has already matched his goal total (9) from last year, with plenty of time ahead to smash last season's previous career high.
This is a player we should be excited about, right? Well, not so fast. Per a report coming out of Russia, Metallurg Magnitogorsk is currently in the process of attempting to lock Grebenkin up to a contract extension in an attempt to prevent him from jumping ship and coming over to North America at the conclusion of his KHL season in April.
The KHL has historically done everything in its power to keep its home-grown talent in Russia, so it's no surprise that they'd want to retain a bright young star like Grebenkin. However, with the skill that the 20-year-old has displayed over the past couple of seasons and the promise he has shown as a pro, it stands to reason that the Leafs would also like to get him over to North America as soon as possible.
It's going to be interesting to see how this situation develops.
Leafs facing a major issue with one of their top prospects

Do you think Nikita Grebenkin will remain in the KHL beyond this season, or will he jump ship to North America in the spring?

He'll come to North America26156.3 %
He'll sign long-term in Russia8819 %
He'll sign short-term in Russia11524.8 %
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