The Toronto Maple Leafs selected forward Rodion Amirov with the 15th-overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.
The winger is the first Russian player ever selected by the Maple Leafs in the first round of the NHL Draft.
Maple Leafs star forward Mitch Marner announced his team’s selection with defenceman Morgan Rielly holding up a jersey with Amirov’s name on it in the background.
Amirov has spent the past two seasons with Ufa Salavat Yulayev in the KHL. He has five points through 10 games so far in the 2020-21 season.
Sportsnet’s Sam Cosentino described Amirov in his final draft rankings as a player “slight of frame with high-end skills. Will need to clean up inconsistent play and add bulk and strength to the frame.”
Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas acquired the pick when he traded Kasperi Kapanen to the Pittsburgh Penguins in August. Dubas had previously traded away his team’s selection to the Carolina Hurricanes when the team dumped Patrick Marleau’s contract last off-season.
Toronto hadn’t selected a forward in the opening round of the draft since taking Auston Matthews first overall in 2016.
The Maple Leafs haven’t won a playoff series since 2004 and there has been mounting pressure on Dubas to improve the team’s back end while managing a difficult salary cap situation.
The team signed veteran centre Jason Spezza Monday to a one-year contract extension worth a league minimum $700,000.