Vlad to have you back, Bobylev returns from Russia (with Love)

    Bobylev (#23) Photo credit: Getty Images, Marissa Baecker

    Somewhere between Auston Matthews’ rookie-of-the-month December, Christmas chaos, and the World Juniors Tournament, Leafs-prospect Vladimir Bobylev’s return to North America went practically unnoticed.

    The Departure

    The 6-foot-2, 204-pound Russian played 20 games with the KHL’s Spartak Moskva this season, following his departure of the Victoria Royals during summer 2016. He was gaining professional experience but his minutes were unfortunately limited on a checking line. Poor offensive numbers didn’t help (1 goal, 2 assists) and, ultimately, he was demoted to the VHL (the Russian equivalent of the American Hockey League). He decided after only three matches with Khimik Voskresensk he’d rather be developing his game on Vancouver Island than in suburban Moscow.

    The Return

    Reminiscent of Bobylev’s 67-point season in 2015-16, Royals head coach Dave Lowry welcomed him back with open arms.

    “We’re getting an experienced, bigger guy back who scored 28 goals last season and also led our team in fighting majors,” he told the Times Colonist,“He has the ability to score goals and also play a heavier game. [Bobylev] really complements our group.”

    Bobylev also had 7 points, all assists, in 5 playoff games last year. Come April, GM Cameron Hope is confident the 19-year-old will help the club climb the playoff tree.

    “It was a big hole when he left. He brings a high level of skill and some size, both things that are in short supply in the Western Hockey League at the level that he plays.”

    Welcome Back

    As of Wednesday night, the Royals held the first Western Conference wild card spot and were only five points back of 2nd-place in the BC division, currently a 53-point tie between Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets.

    The Leafs’ 2016 fifth-round (122nd overall) draft pick had an assist in his first game back. He has 3 goals and 6 assists in 10 games since his return, including a goal and 2 apples in yesterday’s 4-3 loss to Kelowna.

    (stats current as of 12:01 AM PT 12/01/17)

    TL;DR. Leafs prospect and Russia’s Lloyd Christmas returned to the Victoria Royals from the KHL.