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Is the Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas Interested in Two KHL Players?

The Maple Leafs have had great success this season with Ilya Mikheyev. Are the Toronto Maple Leafs interested in more Russian KHL players?

A recent Hockey News Newsletter reported that a number of Russian KHL players were likely interested in moving to the NHL next season. As always, the Maple Leafs remain front and center on at least two of these players. After the team’s successful signing and all-round great experience with Ilya Mikheyev, the team always works its Russian connection.

In the newsletter, two players with Maple Leafs connections were noted.

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Player #1: Alexander Barabanov, Right-winger, St. Petersburg SKA (seven seasons)

The 26-year-old Alexander Barabanov didn’t have what you’d call a spectacular season with SKA St. Petersburg this season, but he scored 46 points last season and has been a “jack of all trades” for Russia in international play recently. He’s got game, and a number of teams have shown interest in bringing him to the NHL (among them are the Maple Leafs and the Arizona Coyotes).

Barabanov is expected to move to the NHL next season. He’ll offer whatever team he plays with a speedy winger who’s reliable both on offense and defense.

Player #2: Mikhail Grigorenko, Center, CKSA Moscow (three seasons)

The 25-year-old Mikhail Grigorenko is reported to be seeking another chance in the NHL. He was drafted 12th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft but wasn’t able to establish his game in a five-year NHL career and returned home in 2017-18 to play with CSKA Moscow. In fact, without Grigorenko, the Hockey News reports that CSKA would have had a difficult time winning the KHL championship last season. He’s also been a stalwart on Russia’s international team.

He’s a more mature and complete player than during his first NHL stint. He’s a good playmaker, and in October the ever-diligent Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas is reported to have met with Grigorenko (according to KHL insider Igor Eronko).

With the recent success that Dubas has had with young, former KHLers (Ilya Mikheyev is the most recent example), it’s likely he’ll take a chance to pick up another Russian or two for next season’s team.

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