Because the Toronto Maple Leafs have been contenders for so long and have used the trade deadline to fill holes and improve the team, it can be tough to keep a huge pool of good prospects. It would be wrong to say that the team’s prospect pool is brimming with talent. Yet, there is some exceptional talent – and sometimes some surprises – within the organization.
Nikita Grebyonkin is emerging as a standout prospect for the team. In this post, I’ll share a bit about him for Maple Leafs fans. To be totally honest, I only learned about him within the past few weeks over the postseason. Before he was just a name who was drafted by Toronto.
So, if he’s new – no surprise.
Who Is Nikita Grebyonkin?
Grebyonkin is a 6-foot-2 (188 cm) and 192 pounds (87 kg) left-shooting right-winger. He was born on May 2, 2003, in Serov, Russia. His hockey journey began early, and he quickly rose through the ranks within the Metallurg Magnitogorsk system, showcasing his passion and talent for the game.
During his junior hockey career with Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk in the MHL (which is considered to be Russia’s equivalent to the CHL), Grebyonkin displayed strong offensive abilities when he registered an impressive 64 points in 58 games.
In the 2022 NHL Draft, the Maple Leafs took a flyer on Grebyonkin and selected him in the fifth round (with the 135th overall pick).
Five Reasons Why Grebyonkin Should Be Considered a Top Prospect
I believe there are five reasons Grebyonkin should be considered to be one of the top prospects in the Maple Leafs’ system.
Reason One: Grebyonkin Had an Impressive KHL Debut
Grebyonkin’s debut season in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) was remarkable. As a 19-year-old, he managed to put up 26 points in 45 games, showcasing his ability to compete at a high level. While that doesn’t sound like a ton of points, his team was not a strong one. That mediated his ability to put up points.
However, he had a successful transition to the KHL, one of the top leagues in the world, which is a testament to his potential and hockey abilities.
Reason Two: Grebyonkin Had an Exceptional Offensive Production
Where he did show offensive skill was in Russia’s juniors. There Grebyonkin’s offensive prowess was undeniable. His 64 points in 58 games in the MHL (Russia’s equivalent of the CHL) caught the attention of the Maple Leafs. That’s undoubtedly why they selected him in the fifth round of the 2022 NHL Draft. He does have the ability to generate scoring chances and contribute to the scoresheet.
He looks like he’s going to be a solid prospect. He’s also getting more attention from other media sources.
Reason Three: Grebyonkin Is in an Elite Company
While his scoring wasn’t huge in the KHL, it wasn’t unnoticed. Grebyonkin’s rookie KHL season ranks as the fourth-best by a 19-year-old player in the league’s history. That puts him in some elite company.
Other NHL stars who have done this well and prospering in the NHL. These include NHL stars like Evgeny Kuznetsov and Kirill Kaprizov. While such success in the KHL doesn’t guarantee future results, it sure highlights his potential. There’s a good chance he can become a high-impact player in the NHL.
Reason Four: Grebyonkin Is a Versatile Player
Grebyonkin’s versatility is a valuable asset. He has shown his skills in several roles, including top-line duties, penalty killing, and power-play time. Such a wide range of abilities makes him a well-rounded prospect who can contribute in multiple ways to the game.
There’s a good chance that, with proper development, he can become a member of the Maple Leafs’ future.
Reason Five: Grebyonkin Will Be Coming Soon to North America
With his KHL contract set to expire at the end of the upcoming season, Grebyonkin could be moving to North America soon. The Maple Leafs have expressed an interest in keeping him in their system.
Could he be headed to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies next season? If so, that would provide an excellent chance for him to adapt to the North American style of play. How he’ll do on North American ice would be the next step in his progress moving closer to the NHL.
The Bottom Line
In short, Grebyonkin is rising through the ranks. He’s played well in Russia, showing impressive offensive skills and versatility. There’s a chance he can become a top-tier prospect for the Maple Leafs.
He might be a young man to watch as he continues to develop.