Artur Akhtyamov… Better than Yaroslav Askarov?

In the 2020 NHL Entry draft completed yesterday, a healthy number of goalies were selected, with 20 of the 216 players being netminders. That’s 9.2% percent of the selections, while they represent 10% of your dressed roster in each NHL game. The Leafs chose one of those 20, in Artur Akhtyamov, a Russian comrade to the only goalie selected in the first round, Yaroslav Askarov.
It’s healthy to pose the question whether Akhtyamov could surprise and end up better than Askarov in the end. After all, goalies are voodoo, and plenty of other highly drafted goalies have not worked out as expected, our own Jack Campbell being near the top of that list. However, it’d be ridiculous to say, with any element of credibility, that Akhtyamov will be better than Askarov.

still can’t believe Nashville reached for Askarov at 11 when Artur Akhtyamov was available
— BOOby cappucino (@bobbycappucino) October 8, 2020

Whoops! (I did not “eat the onion” as they say, I know Bobby is being facetious. He’s the best at it).
All kidding aside, if it were possible to know that, obviously the draft positions would look a lot different. That doesn’t take the possibility out of the question though.
In Askarov …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

2020 NHL Draft: Four Russians utilize extra 2020/21 games

With the 2020 NHL Entry Draft occurring nearly 4 months later than normal, scouts have a unique opportunity to catch some extra viewings. The KHL season is about 12 games in, the SHL is underway, and Liiga opened October 1st.
Besides the Russian leagues there won’t be too many games to scrutinize, but every point will draw more attention that players in North America don’t have available to them. If a team is undecided between a European and American prospect it is much better to watch shifts from the past week than months old USHL film. Many of the European prospects are also playing against better competition than they have seen in the past, which is very useful to evaluators.
For all these reasons, draft eligibles in the KHL could rocket up the draft boards by playing well early in the 20/21 season. These are some of the players that have taken advantage of that opportunity:
Yegor Chinakhov
The 5’11” RW is an early ’01 birthday, so he has already gone undrafted once. The reason he drew so much attention this time around was a jump from 16 MHL points to 69. That was enough to vault him Chinakhov into the 6th/7th round on some …

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Author: Earl Schwartz / The Leafs Nation

Pros and cons of the Leafs signing Wayne Simmonds

It is going to be an interesting day in the hockey world. With the NHL Entry Draft tonight, there will be rumours about potential trades and signings flying around all day. Many of which could be about Toronto, a team that is expected to be very busy during this time. The first Toronto-related rumour of the day came from Pierre Lebrun of The Athletic: 

Hearing that the Maple Leafs have genuine interest in pending UFA winger Wayne Simmonds at the right price. They have him listed as a target once free agency opens Friday. Again, would need to be a reasonable contract for it to work. But Leafs have sincere interest there.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) October 6, 2020

Toronto is looking to become a “tougher team to play against”. In the past, Dubas has eluded to valuing tough players but making sure they also play well is what makes it difficult. He has traded for Jake Muzzin and Kyle Clifford in the past, along with signing free agent Ilya Mikheyev. Looking for “gritty players” isn’t really something new for Dubas.
Simmonds spent the past season with the New Jersey Devils and the Buffalo Sabres. He had 25 points in 68 games while fulfilling …

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Author: Nick DeSouza / The Leafs Nation

NHL Free Agency has been moved up and it means some tough decisions coming soon for the Leafs

Earlier today we got the news that the NHL had moved up its entry draft. Not surprisingly the decision to move up free agency followed shortly after.

Adjust your calendars: #NHLDraft scheduled for Oct. 6-7, #FreeAgentFrenzy scheduled for Oct. 9.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) September 8, 2020

Initially it seemed that the move for the draft dates might have been to give GMs a bit of breathing room between the draft and free agency, and to give teams and players a chance to enjoy the Thanksgiving (or Columbus Day) weekend without having to worry about sitting by the phone, but alas. The NHL has traded Canada Day free agent frenzy for a Thanksgiving Frenzy instead.
One of the biggest questions for me is when are teams expected to extend qualifying offers to their restricted free agents, and when will they be required to announce club elected salary arbitration. With the tight timelines, that may be key and I’d expect the free agent market to improve significantly in the 11th hour due to the inclusion of unqualified RFAs. Oh and the buyouts, while the Leafs won’t be buying anyone out, we should be curious about when those start, which …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation