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Toronto Maple Leafs

Ilya Mikheyev Wants Free Agency Home Run, Maple Leafs Seek Trade

According to NHL insiders, forward Ilya Mikheyev is looking to hit a free agency home run and that’s why the Leafs are trying to trade him.

It wasn’t expected the Toronto Maple Leafs would be able to afford an Ilya Mikheyev contract extension but reports of his ask in free agency make it nearly impossible for the Maple Leafs to keep him around, which explains the reason the team has made him available in a trade prior to the NHL Entry Draft on Thursday.

Related: Maple Leafs Have Reportedly Soured on Jack Campbell

According to Pierre LeBrun of TSN, “On pending UFA winger Ilya Mikheyev, my understanding is that if he hits the open market, his agent Dan Milstein would be looking for a multi-year deal in the $4.75 M AAV to $5.5 M AAV range…” That’s a lot of money that would likely represent a bit of an overpayment from a team, but Mikheyev is coming off a 21-goal season. There could be a team out there willing to give him that kind of money with the hopes his 21 goals is just scratching the surface of the kind of production he can put up when elevated into a regular top-six role.

The Leafs don’t intend to (can’t) invest that kind of money into bringing him back and Chris Johnston of Sports Insights and TSN notes:

“Dubas sent a note to rival GMs on Thursday making it known that he was willing to trade Mikheyev’s rights to “jumpstart the process” before free agency opens July 13. That confirmed suspicions the Russian winger had priced himself out of Toronto’s plans with his first 20-goal season and an asking price of $4-million plus.

Mikheyev Might Be a Gamble at That Price Point

Just 27 years old, Mikheyev has had injury issues and never cracked 32 points in any given NHL season. If he stays healthy, he could up those numbers, but it’s a risk by any team to think he will. And, if they are going to invest long-term in him at that kind of price tag, it could turn out to be a great deal or a terrible one a franchise is looking to get out from under in a couple of seasons.

Between Mikheyev seeking nearly $5 million and Jack Campbell possibly leaving Toronto to find a team that will give him $5 million or more, the Leafs are letting between $10-$11 million walk away. That makes sense considering their situation. The trick will be finding players who can replace them.




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