Report: Toronto Maple Leafs sign Russian defenseman Igor Ozhiganov

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Igor Ozhiganov
MOSCOW, RUSSIA MARCH 7, 2018: Spartak Moscows Viktor Komarov (L) and CSKA Moscow's Igor Ozhiganov in Leg 3 of their 2017/18 KHL Western Conference quarterfinal playoff tie at the VTB Ice Palace. Sergei Fadeichev/TASS (Photo by Sergei FadeichevTASS via Getty Images)

After the reported signing of Swedish centre Par Lindholm, the Toronto Maple Leafs have made another addition from the European free agent market. Igor Ozhiganov is a 25-year-old right-handed defenseman who has spent parts of the last eight seasons in the Kontinential Hockey League (KHL). Since 2015 he has been a big part of a successful CSKA team, never missing the playoffs as a member of the team. He was linked to the Leafs as early as August 2017 when Mike Babcock and Lou Lamoriello travelled to Russia to pay him a visit. Reports out of Russia indicate he has signed a one-year deal with the Leafs. This would be the first signing for new Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas.

Igor Ozhiganov Signs With Toronto Maple Leafs

Playstyle

Ozhiganov is a good skater for his size, 6’2″ and 210 lbs. Even coming off a down year in offensive production, he will challenge for the “Roman Polak” position with the Leafs. He can penalty kill, check, block shots, everything teams look for in a bottom-pairing defenceman. Oddly enough, Ozhiganov was reduced to that role with CSKA at times because of the Leafs buyout of fellow right-handed defenceman Alexei Marchenko, who promptly returned to CSKA. Ozhiganov performed admirably in his role, helping his Moscow team reach the Gagarin Cup finals, only to lose to another possible future Leaf, Ak Bars Kazan’s Vladimir Tkachyov.

Contract

While contract details have not been released the CBA indicates that Ozhiganov was bound to a one-year Entry Level Contract (ELC). The maximum on such a contract includes a $925,000 salary plus bonuses. He will be exempt from waivers, and if he’s sent to the Marlies he will have an AHL salary as this will be a two-way deal. A much cheaper option than Polak has been over the years, Ozhiganov’s signing has almost entirely ensured the loyal Czech will not be returning for a third time.

This marks the seventh European free agent signed since March 2015, most notably including Nikita Zaitsev and Andreas Borgman. It remains to be seen if Ozhiganov joins the Marlies. It could be on a Professional Try-Out (PTO) for the playoffs, or simply to workout and familiarize himself with the city and staff.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Without two or three good defensive veterans
    you have no chance for Stanley,
    in the playoffs you have finished again in the first round.
    Those illusions that Marincin, Borgman, Rosen
    Can handle with powerful players from US clubs are just illusions
    and that Carick or Dermott can handle it without a strong veteran player
    support with them in line it’s such an illusion.
    Leafs have amazing prospect Dakota Joshua and this kid
    have that I think Lindholm will be total mistake.
    It’s unbelievable to spend money and cup space on some injured Ennis,
    total mistake by management and they are full in AHL.
    And why not change Leivo, and one more player player and draft pick for defense,
    what they are waiting for,I think Dubas is not good
    and they have made a mistake to move away Lamoriello.
    He overcame a club with not proven players from Europe
    and dismissed NHL players and the club will suffer for cup space.

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