According to TSN’s Chris Johnston, apparently as many as half of the teams in the NHL have an interest in signing Toronto Maple Leafs forward Ilya Mikheyev.
Last week, Sportsnet‘s Elliotte Friedman reported that Ilya Mikheyev would not be returning to Toronto next season. Friedman added that the Leafs told other teams the rights to the 27-year-old are available to be traded to anyone wanting to jumpstart the process.
Mikheyev is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13. The question is, would any team be interested in acquiring his rights and getting the inside track on agreeing a deal with him?
While this will not specifically answer the question, comments from TSN‘s Chris Johnston do provide some intrigue and value. Johnston claims that as many as half of NHL teams have at least some interest in signing Mikheyev this summer.
Johnston also said Mikheyev is looking for a deal worth around $4 million per season. For some context, the forward is coming off a two-year deal which had an average annual salary of $1.645 million.
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The 2021-22 campaign proved to be the best of Mikheyev’s three seasons in Toronto, as he set NHL career highs of 21 goals, 32 total points, 52 hits and a plus/minus rating of +16. He also notched his first ever playoff points, with two goals and a couple of assists in seven games against the Lightning.
Mikheyev has undoubtedly grown during his time in Toronto, to the point where he has shown he is capable of regularly being a top-six forward. He is fast, versatile and an extremely good two-way player, who fits well in the Leafs’ system.
In this respect, fans could be forgiven for wondering why the Leafs are apparently prepared to let him leave. The chances are the organization has already held talks with the Omsk, Russia native and decided they cannot meet his salary demands.
Certainly this would make sense, when considering the Leafs’ challenging salary cap situation for next season. Combine this with their priorities in terms of players they’d like to re-sign — with Jack Campbell at the top of this list — and Mikheyev would seem to be one of the odd men out.
What is your opinion of Miyheyev and what he has achieved during his time in Toronto? Do you agree with the apparent decision by the Leafs to not attempt to re-sign him? Let us know in the comments section below.