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Canucks break the bank on Ilya Mikheyev, sign winger to four-year, $19 million contract

The 27-year-old scored at a 32-goal pace last season.

Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs
Ilya Mikheyev #65 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates a goal against the Boston Bruins during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on April 29, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Wow.

With very little cap space to work with, the Vancouver Canucks announced on Wednesday that they have signed 27-year-old Russian winger Ilya Mikheyev to a four-year deal worth $4.75 million per season.

To be blunt, this is a risky deal for the Canucks. Mikheyev profiles as one of those guys that gets paid too much money in free agency, especially considering his profile as a middle-six winger.

That being said, there is some intrigue and excitement with this deal, and the idea of Mikheyev playing for the Canucks.

The winger is one of the fastest players in the NHL right now. He also is a responsible, two-way forward who just scored at a 32-goal pace last season.

Mikheyev had 21 goals and 32 points in 53 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season. He struggled to finish his scoring chances during his first two NHL seasons, but his 14.3% shooting percentage from 2021-22 doesn’t seem entirely unsustainable.

Mikheyev shouldered a lot of heavy defensive minutes for the Maple Leafs. He has the third-highest percentage of defensive zone starts among all Leafs last season. Despite, that he finished with the third-lowest expected goals against among his teammates at even-strength last season.

He was also a strong penalty killer for the Leafs last season, finishing with the second-lowest expected goals against among regular penalty killers on the Leafs last season.

Mikheyev also finished tied for second in the league with four shorthanded goals last season.

There’s no doubt that this deal is risky for the Canucks, but his profile as a speedy, defensive-minded winger who can score and kill penalties is a good fit (on paper) for the Canucks.

Whether the deal ends up looking good in 2-3 years' time is another story.

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