The Toronto Maple Leafs have extended forward Ilya Mikheyev to a two-year deal with a 1.645 million dollar AAV.
Ilya Mikheyev in Toronto
After very solid performances in the KHL, Ilya Mikheyev signed an entry-level deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2019.
In Toronto, Mikheyev got off to a surprisingly good start. After netting a goal and an assist in his debut, Mikheyev became a lock in Toronto’s top-nine, making appearances in the top-six.
And then tragedy struck.
During the third period of a game against the New Jersey Devils, on a seemingly harmless play, Devils player Jesper Bratt tripped while getting a shot off. His skate went up and sliced Mikheyev’s wrist, cutting an artery and tendons.
Mikheyev was expected to be out for at least three months, which would’ve likely caused him to miss the rest of the season. At the time, Mikheyev had six points in his last six games, 23 points in 39 games overall.
Due to the pandemic, however, Mikheyev was able to recover from his injury and still have time to improve.
Mikheyev’s recovery saw him come back better than ever, spending the time in Toronto training and working to get back stronger than ever. It led to him being named the Leafs’ Phase 3 MVP.
In his first game back, he made sure to let everyone know that he was BACK. 33 seconds into the game, Mikheyev put the Leafs up 1-0 against the Habs and looked incredible the entire game.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t able to carry over to the play-ins. Mikheyev, along with most of the Leafs’ supporting cast, wasn’t able to make a huge impact, going scoreless in 5 games.
However, overall, Mikheyev’s season was one to remember. The 26-year-old was on pace for 48 points in 82 games, and that was before the training that saw him get praised for how great he’d done over the break. What can Mikheyev do in a full NHL season now that he’s used to North American ice and can finally show what he can do now that he’s better than ever?
That’s something the Leafs are going to see over the next two years.
Don’t get it twisted. This contract is a STEAL! The majority of Mikheyev’s contract comparables on CapFriendly.com haven’t gotten very close to the level of production Mikheyev has shown in his short NHL career. With the potential to become a 50-point player, this $1,645,000 deal becomes almost highway robbery if he even gets near that.
The contract is built a bit weirdly. As listed right now, the deal contains zero signing bonuses, something the Leafs are known to give out frequently. Mikheyev is owed 1.1 million dollars in base salary in 2020-21, and that number rises to 2.19 million dollars in 2021-22. The rise in salary owed in the latter half of his deal is likely due to the anticipated escrow hit on players due to the pandemic.
Mikheyev becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of his deal, as he’ll be 28 years old. That could be a concern down the line, but it’s too soon to think about that. Anyways, Mikheyev loves Toronto, has a good relationship with GM Kyle Dubas, and how many other markets would make him a coveted soup endorser?
“We can and we will” was a quote aimed at the goal of signing the Leafs’ stars, but it’s almost as impressive when applied to the formation of this 2020-21 Leafs roster.
Ilya Mikheyev will try to come back stronger, likely competing for a top-six role with the Leafs when the season starts.
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Featured Image Credit: (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)