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Canucks Add to Russian Contingent – Sign Winger Ilya Mikheyev

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Vancouver Canucks, Ilya Mikheyev
An artist's rendition of Ilya Mikheyev in a Vancouver Canucks sweater, from his agent's announcment of the signing.

The Vancouver Canucks signed former Toronto Maple Leafs winger Ilya Mikheyev to a four-year, $4.75-million per season contract on Wednesday morning.

He was the top man on Vancouver Hockey Now’s Canucks desired free agent list just two days ago. From the article …

Ilya Mikheyev Cap issues will likely force the Toronto Maple Leafs to watch this 27-year-old winger hit the highway. The Maple Leafs signed him in the spring of 2019 and watched him improve all three seasons, ending up with a career year in 2021-’22 with 21 goals and 11 assists in 53 games. Most of the improvement was simply living up to expectations after he missed serious amounts of time his rookie year with a severed wrist injury and more time later during Covid bubble hockey.

The unrestricted free agent (UFA) will definitely be making more than the $1.65-million he made on average the last two seasons, but maybe not too much more.

Mikheyev, a left-shot, plays both wings and would fit nicely with the Vancouver Canucks burgeoning mini-contingent of Russians, Vasily Podkolzin and Andrey Kuzmenko.

Mikheyev grew up playing hockey in Omsk, Russian and didn’t stray far. From youth hockey all the way through four full seasons with Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), a pro career that started in 2015. He came to North America after signing with the Maple Leafs on May 6th, 2019.

Like Podkolin, Mikheyev can play either wing, but prefers the right side, his off wing. It gives the Canucks some chemistry in terms of the Russian connection mentioned in the earlier article, and gives head coach Bruce Boudreau some versatility side-to-side and up-and-down the line-up.

There could be a tremendous amount of upside to this player’s game if he continues to remain injury free. This is not to suggest at all that he’s injury prone; the wrist injury he suffered was one-in-a-million when New Jersey Devils forward Jesper Bratt fell and sliced Mikheyev’s wrist during a game on December 27th, 2019. Mikheyev immediately underwent surgery and recovered rehabilitated in plenty of time to begin the 2020-’21 season.

The signing follows the Canucks acquisition of Salmon Arm native Curtis Lazar earlier Wednesday morning. The gritty bottom-six forward inked a three-year contract worth $1-million per season. More on him and the day as a whole momentarily.

On Wednesday afternoon, Vancouver Canucks General Manager Patrik Allvin will address the media on the signings, any others that arise, and the official inking of Kuzmenko.

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