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Maple Leafs brass show interest in Russian defenseman Igor Ozhiganov

The Toronto Maple Leafs pipeline into Russia may continue if the team’s front office has anything to say about it.

Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock and general manager Lou Lamoriello found a diamond in the rough in Nikita Zaitsev. They’re hoping to strike gold twice with a player that hasn’t been on many people’s radars.

Igor Ozhiganov is a defenseman for CSKA Moskva in the KHL and has been with the team since the 2015-16 season. During the 2016-17 season, Ozhiganov played in 50 games and put in eight goals and helped out with 14 assists for a total of 22 points. A good clip for a defenseman in one of the best leagues in the world.

Since his contract with the team doesn’t expire until after the 2017-18 season, this is long-term planning from the Maple Leafs. Ozhiganov isn’t going to break any new records for the team but as a player that has shown constant growth, he is a good bet to contribute in the NHL.

It doesn’t hurt that he has silky smooth hands either.

For a player like Ozhiganov, the only contract that he would/should agree to is an NHL deal. With multiple prospects coming for the Maple Leafs, does he make sense? As a mostly finished product, he could allow for more percolation for Maple Leafs prospects and immediately jump in for the 2018-19 season. If reports are to be believed, this would be a stacked blueline with only more reinforcements coming.

Who said a glut of defenseman is a bad thing?

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    • Skill2Envy

      Correct. This is good planning and makes a lot of sense. The Leafs are short RHD with Zeitsev, Carrick, Liljegren and Holl currently our best.

      Jake Gardiner will also have 1 year remaining before UFA after ’18/19 – Matthews and Marner will need new contracts as well, not to mention other prospects in the system. We will start to witness the “Chicago cap crunch” take effect.

      • The Russian Rocket

        The Gardiner contract scares me the most because I have no idea what he will get. The tide has turned on the Gardiner narrative, everyone seems to like him now.

        • Skill2Envy

          Between Kadri (4.5), Rielly (5), Zeitsev (4.5), Nylander (?) plus our depth already signed, add in Matthews and Marner being up at the same time as Gardiner and I just don’t see Gardiner fitting onto the roster. I could very well be wrong and Lou/Kyle find a way to Yzerman the roster, but its unlikely Gardiner fits.

          Marleau (6.25) will still have 1 year remaining as will Horton (5.3). And 3 years of Phil (1.2) left. Not to mention EVERY prospect will already have/need a new contract the year prior, that year, or the year following per Cap Friendly.

  • Hugh Allan

    An NHL team can not have enough quality defencemen and prospects. Leafs are weak down the right side and another defensive prospect to add to Liljegren can only be a good thing. Kucherov has been trying to talk Yzerman into signing this kid. That’s a pretty good recommendation.

  • jbrough7

    Does anyone know contracts in the KHL? Can the Leafs with all their dough go to CSKA and say, “Hey, here’s $10 million if you tear up that contract!” Would that be legal? CSKA is a strong club but I bet they could use $10 million.