Artur Akhtyamov is in Toronto, but that doesn’t mean a signing is imminent

You know it’s June as we rush to report on the sighting of a potential late round goaltending visitor visiting Toronto with his agent.

Now, this is wonderfully vague and noncommittal. This could be a player (who last we checked) is under contract to the KHL next season, just visiting the city of the team that has their NHL rights. He could lay the groundwork for coming to Toronto next season and wants to visit the Leafs facilities, meet people developing players and probably visit Canada’s Wonderland. It goes without saying that he would do that a lot with his agent, who probably also acts as his interpreter a lot. (Also, Dan Milstein looks like he’d be fun to spend a day with at an amusement park.)

There is, of course, the other option, the one we were all looking for first, and that is the possibility of Akhtyamov signing. That’s more difficult because of the whole KHL contract, but to say that the state of communication between the NHL and KHL is tense at the moment is an understatement. Here’s basically where they are for fulfilling contracts:

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“We have only limited contractual information about players who currently or most recently played in the KHL,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly wrote in the memo.

To sign a player from the KHL, the interested NHL team must check with the Central Registry to inquire whether the latest available information from the KHL shows that the player has an expiring KHL contract, and teams must be “independently provide documentary evidence demonstrating that the player is completely free from all potentially conflicting contractual obligations in the KHL for 2022-23 and beyond.”

NHL teams are free to continue to communicate with their Russian players and/or prospects, and with their North American-based agents.

Now, breaking contracts in the KHL does occur, but we have no proof of that yet. This is probably just a player with a year left in his deal trying to weigh his options and with a Leafs prospect camp probably on the horizon shortly after the draft, there’s the potential he could be involved in that (again that’s a big IF given the complexity of the situation.)

For now, it’s just cool to see that the Leafs can bring Akhtyamov into their system at some point. We’ll see if it becomes more than a pretty picture of two guys enjoying a night out.

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