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Ilya Mikheyev Speaks Out, Brings Health and Speed to Canucks

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Vancouver Canucks, Ilya Mikheyev
New Vancouver Canucks winger Ilya Mikheyev spoke to the media early Thursday morning.

The Vancouver Canucks introduced free agent signee Ilya Mikheyev to the local media on Thursday morning and the 27-year-old Russian winger said he’ll be moving his family, his wife and a small dog, to Vancouver near the end of August. He didn’t appear to expect any problems leaving Russia.

In broken English he described that during the Covid stunted 2020-’21 season, with games limited to the all-Canadian North Division, he came to appreciate the city of Vancouver and the rink, even without fans.

“I like the city, I like the team, and I like how (they) build this team,” Mikheyev stated.

A key part of the recent build-out has been to add a Russian contingent, including another highly sought after free agent acquisition Andrey Kuzmenko, while Vasily Podkolzin was the club’s 1st-round draft choice from 2019.

It’s a dynamic trio of wingers, all of whom prefer to play their off-wing.

“Of course (it’s good), when I played two-and-a-half years in Toronto with just one Russian guy,” Mikheyev explained, “when you come into NHL first year and you have Russian guys it’s good because my English was bad and you practice of course when you speak with these guys in the rink, in the restaurant, and outside. Now, when you know English better … it’s just bonus when you have Russian guys.”

Mikheyev will likely go from being mentee to mentor, since Kuzmenko will be playing in the NHL for the first time. Vancouver Canucks General Manager Patrik Allvin suggested cultural chemistry didn’t play a part in the talent acquisition, but it definitely can be a bonus.

“Especially when you have a guy like Kuzmenko coming in here to the league,” Allvin said Wednesday. “As a rookie I think it will help him to be a little bit familiar with Podkolzin and Mikheyev, that have been in the league for a couple years.”

Mikheyev slots in as a speedy top-6 winger who also plays effectively on the penalty kill. He says he has completely overcome the severed wrist and broken finger injuries he suffered early in his career. That fact is reflected in Mikheyev’s career best stats last season.

Given the setbacks, given he’s healthy and hungry, and given the fresh start outside of Toronto, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound forward has the potential to be a very exciting acquisition for the Vancouver Canucks.

Mikheyev is inked for four years at $4.75-million per season.

VHN Managing Editor Rob Simpson has been covering the NHL for three decades on live TV, radio, and as a journalist. He worked his first ever game getting postgame sound as a teenager; it was Vancouver vs. Detroit.

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