Report: Toronto Maple Leafs Igor Ozhiganov Expected to Return to KHL

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Igor Ozhiganov
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 23: New York Rangers Center Boo Nieves (24) and Toronto Maple Leafs Defenceman Igor Ozhiganov (92) fight for the puck during the regular season NHL game between the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs on March 23, 2019 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, ON. (Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Igor Ozhiganov is expected to return to the KHL after just one season in Toronto.

Toronto Maple Leafs Igor Ozhiganov expected to Return to KHL

In 53 games with the Maple Leafs this season, Ozhiganov scored three goals and added four assists for seven points. Ozhiganov was signed by the Leafs on May 18th, 2018 to a one year, entry-level contract. He was set to become a restricted free agent on July 1st.

What This Means for the Future

This move should not come as much of a surprise to Leaf fans. Ozhiganov played well to start the season but fell out of favour of head coach Mike Babcock once Jake Muzzin was acquired. He couldn’t earn a full-time spot in the roster and was often a healthy scratch down the stretch. He didn’t see any action in the Leafs first-round matchup against the Boston Bruins.

With the Leafs expected to upgrade the right side on defence this off-season, and youngsters Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren in the fold, Ozhiganov would certainly have trouble earning a roster spot when training camp rolled around.

Dreger notes the Maple Leafs still may be interested in bringing Ozhiganov back. However, it would clearly be just a depth move. He would likely be used as a seventh or eighth defenceman at best. Whereas if Ozhiganov returns back to the KHL, he would certainly see increased playing time as he did before he left, as he only averaged 14 minutes a night with the Leafs when he did play. It’s very likely we don’t see Ozhiganov back in a Leafs uniform next season.

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1 COMMENT

  1. […] Reports indicate Igor Ozhiganov will be returning to the KHL. Ozhiganov wasn’t bad for the Maple Leafs. He’s a right-handed defenseman, which the club lacks, but he was mostly utilized as a depth player in Toronto. His lack of ice time is likely what drove him to decide to return to the KHL where he’ll have a more prominent role. The Maple Leafs may find a way to bring him back, but with the team needing to re-sign Mitch Marner, it’s likely Dubas won’t want to pay much more than the $925,000 he was paying Ozhiganov for a depth defenseman. Ozhiganov is probably looking for more money as well as more ice time, neither appear to be in the cards for him in Toronto. […]

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