Maple Leafs prospect Rodion Amirov dies at 21

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 13: Rodion Amirov of the Toronto Maple Leafs is introduced during the home opener between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Washington Capitals at the Scotiabank Arena on October 13, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Rodion Amirov died at the age of 21, the team announced Monday.

Amirov was diagnosed with a brain tumor in February 2022.

“The entire Maple Leafs organization is devastated by this tragic loss,” team president Brendan Shanahan wrote in a statement. “Over the duration of his courageous battle, Rodion’s positivity inspired everyone around him, and he made lasting impressions with our team and fans in his brief visits to Toronto.

“It’s incredibly sad to see a young man with so much promise taken from us so soon. We offer our deepest condolences to Rodion’s family and friends as we mourn this loss together.”

The Maple Leafs selected Amirov 15th overall in the 2020 NHL Draft.

“From the moment he received the news, he refused to speak in the negative, determined to enjoy every day, facing it with the same positive attitude he showed during his hockey career,” Amirov’s agent Dan Milstein wrote. “We will always remember his courage, his desire, his will, his smile, all of the great things about him.”

Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Kyle Dubas – who drafted Amirov when GM of the Maple Leafs – released a statement on social media.

“I am so sad for the loss of such a wonderful young man with so much potential,” Dubas said. “His unabashed positivity – even when faced with an awful diagnosis – will stay with me forever. Rodion was such an example of courage, and I am certain that his spirit has touched and will live on in everyone lucky enough to have known him.”

Toronto’s assistant GM and director of player development, Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser, expressed her thoughts on social media.

“(Amirov) was a special talent who taught us all how to handle true adversity with courage and optimism,” Wickenheiser said. “We will all miss him. Special thank you to everyone who cared for and helped Rodion during his time in Toronto.”

Maple Leafs captain John Tavares was among multiple players to send their condolences to Amirov’s family and friends.

It’s incredibly hard to comprehend the loss of Rodion. His smile and joy for life & hockey was infectious. My teammates & I are grateful for our time spent with him & forever inspired by his courageous fight. Condolences to his loved ones. We’ll miss him dearly. #RodionForever pic.twitter.com/ISw98LT7dM

— John Tavares (@91Tavares) August 14, 2023

Amirov played for Salavat Yulaev Ufa in the KHL and also represented Russia on the international stage on numerous occasions.

He never played a game in the NHL, but he did attend the Leafs’ home opener this past season and was honored by the fans with a standing ovation.

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