The Maple Leafs have traded 24-year-old winger Nikita Soshnikov to the St. Louis Blues for a fourth-round pick in the 2019 NHL draft.
Soshnikov, a free agent signing out of the KHL in 2015, was never able to stay healthy and fell victim to a numbers game at the Leafs’ organizationally deep position of left wing. He was never able to get traction at the NHL level; undersized with a robust style of play, the only constant during his time here seemed to be injuries.
While he enjoyed a brief spell next to Nazem Kadri in his first NHL stint during the 2015-16 season, he was since limited to fourth-line plus penalty killing duty (where he was very effective) when he got into the NHL lineup.
While on the fourth line, he was also never able to play on his proper side — the left wing — and was normally playing with non-NHLers (Matt Martin, Ben Smith) on his wrong side — not exactly an ideal set of circumstances for staking claim to a roster spot and never looking back.
In any event, with Kasperi Kapanen leapfrogging him on the depth chart, Josh Leivo still on the NHL roster, and more wingers knocking on the door in the pipeline on the Marlies, Soshnikov has been moved along to the new opportunity he was seeking.
The move opens up a contract spot, moving the Leafs from the limit of 50 contracts down to 49 and opening up some flexibility ahead of the deadline.
The fourth round pick also moves the Maple Leafs from seven to eight picks in the 2019 draft.
With the #NHL trade deadline only 11 days away, the #Leafs currently have the following assets:#Leafs have $5,448,334 of deadline cap space#Leafs are no longer at the 50 contract limit#Leafs have 8 draft picks in both 2018 and 2019 NHL entry draftshttps://t.co/qAIE3CsYFB pic.twitter.com/PH7DGNduNF
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) February 15, 2018