According to a report out of Russia, Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock and GM Lou Lamoriello recently made a trip to the country at least in part to meet with 24-year-old Igor Ozhiganov.
Sportsnet confirmed with the Maple Leafs that Babcock and Lamoriello were in Russia recently, but the team gave no details on the trip or who they were there to see.
Ozhiganov, a 6-foot-2, 214-pound defenceman, was never drafted to the NHL and has spent the past two seasons with CSKA Moscow. He scored 22 points in 50 games in 2016-17 to establish a career high in Russia’s top league.
Under contract with CSKA for one more season, Ozhiganov wouldn’t be able to join an NHL team until the 2018-19 season. It’s worth noting that this would be a similar situation to when the Leafs brought Nikita Zaitsev over from Russia for his age 25 season. Reports of the team’s interest in him started to come out while Zaitsev was still under contract in Russia.
Zaitsev and Ozhiganov were teammates with CSKA for the 2015-16 season.