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Maple Leafs and Canadiens in a battle for top Russian free agent.

Sounds like it will be down to Canada's two biggest hockey markets.


The 2019 - 2020 National Hockey League regular season is in full swing and that means that by and large North American hockey fans are fully focused in on the happenings in the biggest hockey league in the world. That being said though although fans tend to focus on the hockey being played on this side of the pond, NHL organizations are still hard out work scouting talented players overseas and it now sounds like one player in particular is generating a ton of interest from NHL teams.

24 year old Kontinental Hockey League star Konstantin Okulov has created quite the buzz in NHL front offices as of late and is off to another strong start this season with CSKA Moscow of the KHL. Through his first 17 games of the season Okulov has already picked up 5 goals and 8 assists for a total of 13 points and on Saturday Sportsnet insider Chris Johnston confirmed that Okulov had NHL teams have already come calling. The most interesting part of Johnston's comments however were the reveal that it already sounds like Okulov has already narrowed his choice down to just 2 teams, the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs, home of arguably the two biggest hockey markets in North America.

"Konstantin Okulov he is one of the big Russian free agents, a guy in the KHL that teams are keeping an eye on," began Johnston before adding, "what is interesting here is that other teams believe that Montreal and Toronto are the two favorites for this forward that is playing with Red Army this season, to the point that some of these teams are wondering if it's even worth engaging with his camp about trying to bring him over next season."

Of course it is possible that at the end of the day Okulov could choose to go in another direction, but it certainly sounds like this is now just a two horse race between the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs. It seems likely that Okulov, who currently plays for one of the biggest teams in the KHL, wants to play in a rabid hockey market given the two teams that appear to be on his list.

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