Toronto Maple Leafs Igor Ozhiganov expected to Return to KHL
Since we’re on a Leafs end of season roll, strong chance Igor Ozhiganov returns to Russia and signs in the KHL. That’s not to say Toronto isn’t interested in re-signing the right shot Dman.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) April 25, 2019
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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