What to expect from the Toronto Maple Leafs’ latest signing

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The Toronto Maple Leafs signed Dmitry Ovchinnikov out of Russia on Friday. His name is not well known to fans yet but that could change soon.

The 19-year-old from Chita, Russia has signed a three-year entry contract which includes playing the rest of this season in the organization. The Toronto Maple Leafs have announced that the forward will report to their AHL farm team, the Toronto Marlies, once he receives his Canadian work permit.

The Leafs owned the rights to Ovchinnikov after selecting him in the 2020 NHL Draft. They took him in the fifth round, 137th overall. While it’s not a position that normally produces talent in the NHL, the Leafs may have struck gold this time around.

This season, Ovchinnikov has split his time between his junior club, Sibirskie Snaipery Novosibirsk in the MHL and the professional KHL team in the same organization, Sibir Novosibirsk. He was a points machine in the MHL, collecting 29 points in 22 games with 13 goals and 16 assists. Unsurprisingly, Ovchinnikov had a much smaller role in the KHL. In 17 games, he registered one goal and two assists. During the previous season, playing in the MHL, Ovchinnikov had a 51-point campaign with 20 goals and 31 assists in 40 games.

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Dmitry Ovchinnikov

With the Marlies, Ovchinnikov will have the opportunity to further develop his game and begin to familiarize himself with the North American style of play. He will have the chance to learn how to be a pro with players like Kyle Clifford and Michael Hutchinson and his new head coach, Greg Moore.

Ovchinnikov has already shown he has a great advantage in Russia. Soon, we should know what the Toronto Maple Leafs have in him as hope.

In March 2021, Jokke Nevalainen of Dobber Prospects described Ovchinnikov as “an incredibly fast skater with great vision and even better shooting. He has the ability to be a dangerous goalscorer at higher levels.

Ovchinnikov has already grown considerably since that time, although Nevalainen’s description is still true. Ovchinnikov has a mean version and can create offense on his own.

The newest member of the Toronto Maple Leafs organization has the potential to become one of the NHL’s top six forwards. With his flashy talent, it shouldn’t be long before the highlights start piling up with the Marlies. It has a long way to go in its development without any guarantees, but for now, it’s fair to prognose that’s its ceiling.

Buckle up Leafs fans because this should be a fun project. There’s a massive payout potential for Toronto if Ovchinnikov’s development continues in a linear fashion.

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