There are report surfacing out of Russia that the Toronto Maple Leafs might be close to signing KHL free agent winger Alexander Barabanov. Speculation is that Barabanov had the Maple Leafs on his short-list of teams and he and Ilya Mikheyev share the same agent.
Other conflicting reports suggest the Maple Leafs are certainly in the conversation but it’s not a done deal yet. A recent report from Sport-Express’ overseas reporter Igor Eronko also suggests the Maple Leafs are the leading candidate to sign the 25-year-old, but that there are three teams in the mix. One of those teams, apparently includes the Arizona Coyotes.
Further to Eronko’s report, TSN’s Darren Dreger adds that nothing is confirmed. In fact, Dreger notes that Barabanov may not even make the jump to the NHL next season. He writes:
Leafs and at least 20 other teams have reached out over the season. Not guaranteed he’s making the move to the NHL. Barabanov and his agent, Dan Milstein, are going to start interviewing teams early next week.
Barabanov is 25 and scored between 10 and 20 goals for St. Petersburg the past four years. He’s considered by some to be a little on the short side at 5-8, 159 lbs, but in today’s NHL, that’s not much of an issue if he can play.
What;s interesting about this is that there are two schools of thought as to why the Maple Leafs might be interested. First, they’ve seen some early success bringing KHL players over on inexpensive contracts and those players helping. That said, this is not the type of player Toronto needs, unless they are looking at dealing a forward for a defenseman and want some skill on the wing to replace whatever goes out.
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