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Leafs prospect Amirov dead at 21

Rodion Amirov Rodion Amirov - Getty Images

Rodion Amirov has died at the age of 21, his agent Dan Milstein announced on Monday.

The 15th overall selection of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Amirov had been diagnosed with brain cancer in 2021.

"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," Milstein wrote. "We will always remember his courage, his desire, his will, his smile, all of the great things about him. We’d like to thank his doctors, who took great care of him. We’d like to thank the Toronto Maple Leafs and his KHL - Salavat Yulayev Ufa team. Both did everything possible to help in any way, do whatever was necessary for Rodion and the Amirov family. And we’d like to thank hockey fans all over the world who sent notes of encouragement and best wishes over the past two years. They meant so much to the Amirov family."

Later on Monday, Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan released a statement.

“The entire Maple Leafs organization is devastated by this tragic loss,” Shanahan said. “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.”

A native of Salavat, Russia, Amirov came up through the system of hometown KHL side Salavat Yulaev Ufa before making his senior debut in 2019-2020. The following season, Amirov appeared in 39 games for the team, scoring nine goals and adding four assists. His 13 points were third-best among players 20 and under.

Amirov signed a three-year, entry-level deal with the Leafs in the spring of 2021. The following February, the club announced his cancer diagnosis.

He would remain in Russia as he underwent treatment and did not play during the 2022-2023 season.

In late June, the team's sporting director, Rinat Bashriov, told Sport-Express Russia that Amirov was trending in the right direction.

"He continues treatment, there is a positive trend," Bashirov said. "He has full confidence that he will go on the ice. Of course, if Rodion played for us, it would be a completely different team. I can tell that he has matured a lot. He continues to work, his parents and we support him very much, and, of course, Rodion took the signing of the contract positively. We pray for him. I believe that he will return, we are all waiting for him."

Internationally, Amirov represented Russia at a number of youth levels and was a member of the squad at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton.