TORONTO – Maple Leafs limited an arbitration hearing Wednesday to restricting free agent winger Ilia Mikhayev, who settled on a two-year, $ 3.29 million contract extension on Tuesday night.
Although Leafs extended the qualifying offer to the pending RFA, Mikhayov exercised his right to an arbitration hearing earlier this month after failing to find common ground with his camp on the new extension. The 26-year-old is looking for a one-year, $ 2.7 million contract from Toronto, but with an early two-year contract at Leafs averaging $ 1 million each season.
According to Cop Friendly, the leaves now exceed the NHL’s flat salary limit.5 81.5 million, with RFA Travis Dermot Still to be signed. General manager Kyle Dubas said in a conference call on Sunday that he was looking forward to the Mikhaev deal before the team’s focus shifted to Dermot. Toronto will be 10 percent off the cap until the start of the 2020-21 regular season, yet to be decided.
It is interesting to note from both sides of the Mikhayev case, how the forward’s promising rookie season was reduced to a terrible injury.
Originally not drafted by the NHL Club, Mikheyev’s stock has been slowly building up over four seasons with KHL’s Omsk Avangard in his native Russia. By the end of his career-best 45-point campaign in 2018-19, several NHL clubs were making offers, but Leaf, who landed Mikhaev in May 2019 on a one-year, entry-level contract.
Mikhaev, who started his third consecutive role in the 2019-20 season, scored in his NHL debut and scored seven points in his first 10 games. He continued his versatility from there, was able to play on the wing when needed and was able to own his own in the top-six.
Mikheyev scored eight goals and 23 points in his first 39 games, taking a brutal turn in his new year. He faced the New Jersey Devils on December 27 when he suffered a hamstring injury Jesper BrattThe skate blade accidentally cut into his right wrist. Mikhaev did not return before the NHL was damaged in March amid the need for surgery to repair the wound and the global COVID-19 pandemic.
He returned to full health for Toronto’s qualifying-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets in early August, but Mikhayov failed to score a single point through those five games as the Leafs dropped three games to two.
Despite that poor performance, Mikheyev’s speed, hockey sense and hard shot added him a valuable addition to the offense Leafs made and he will try to play in the top-six again next season.