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Dubas Confirms Interest in Barabanov

Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyl Dubas has confirmed the team’s interest in KHL forward Alexander Barabanov.

Earlier this weekend, we mentioned rumors the Toronto Maple Leafs were interested in a forward out of the KHL. Insiders were reporting the Maple Leafs were the frontrunners to land Russian Alexander Barabanov and while there were conflicting reports about Barabanov’s interest in making the jump, there is more news developing today.

The initial report came from Sport-Express’ overseas reporter Igor Eronko also suggests who called the Maple Leafs the leading candidate to sign the 25-year-old. Another report from TSN Insider Darren Dreger noted, “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.”

On Tuesday, Maple Leafs’ GM Kyle Dubas admitted at a media availability that his team is pursuing the player.

Chris Johnston of Sportsnet notes that the Maple Leafs like Barabanov’s ability to make plays under pressure and after signing KHL’er Ilya Mikheyev last season, Dubas has some pretty good street cred in Russia based on how he treated Mikheyev after the newly acquired Maple Leaf suffered the horrifying laceration of his wrist and had to have emergency surgery. Dubas personally stayed by his side during the recovery process and that made waves throughout the KHL that this is a GM who will treat his players well.

Still, Johnston also notes that there doesn’t seem to be any rush from Barabanov’s side to make a decision and as Dreger said, Barabanov may not make the jump to the NHL.

The Athletic’s Craig Morgan confirmed the Arizona Coyotes have also interest as general manager John Chayka talked with Barabanov earlier this season when he visited St. Petersburg. Who the third team that is rumored to be leading the way with Toronto and Arizona is, remains unclear.

Related: Edmonton Oilers News & Rumors: Nugent-Hopkins, Broberg & Puljujarvi

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