There was not a lot of fear that things would get adversarial between the Toronto Maple Leafs and forward Ilya Mikheyev, as the two parties were scheduled for an arbitration hearing on Wednesday. The two sides were far apart when they filed their figures on Monday, but settled on a two-year, $3.29 million contract on Tuesday.
Mikheyev, 26, who had 23 points (8 goals, 15 assists) in 39 games in his rookie season before suffering a wrist laceration in December, filed an amount of $2.7 million on a one-year deal, while the Leafs requested a two-year deal for $1 million. The settlement pays the big Russian winger $1.1 million next season and $2.19 million in the final year, which was not quite a split of the difference, but allows the “Soup Man” to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2022.
“Ilya decided to step off a little bit from an already agreed number to help the team fit under the cap,” agent Dan Milstein told Sportsnet’s Luke Fox .“For Ilya, it was less about the money, but more about the role in the organization. He wishes to win the Stanley Cup. It's been a lifelong dream.”
The signing to go along with the additions of goalie Aaron Dell, defensemen Zach Bogosian and TJ Brodie, forwards Jimmy Vesey, Wayne Simmonds, Joe Thornton, and the swap of winger Andreas Johnsson for youngster Joey Anderson puts the Leafs have just over the $81.5 million salary cap (according to Cap Friendly) with defenseman Travis Dermott still to be signed.
GM Kyle Dubas indicated earlier this week that the Leafs will be able to accommodate the new deals for Mikheyev and Dermott and not be forced into a trade to be cap compliant, but with 15 or 16 NHL-level forwards and 8 or 9 defensemen, it gives Toronto some trade options between now and the beginning of training camp later this year.
Many NHL clubs have loaned players to European leagues to further their development while the professional leagues in North America decide when their seasons will start. Big Russian winger Egor Korshkov struggled staying healthy through five seasons in the KHL, but was successful in his rookie season in North America, scoring 16 goals with the AHL Toronto Marlies and a goal in his NHL debut.
The 24-year-old is continuing his progress in his return to Yaroslavl Lokomotiv, leading the club with 12 points through 16 games, but with the Leafs loaded up front for next season and the start of American Hockey League season in question, it is possible that Toronto leaves Korshkov in Russia for the full year.
"If everything goes according to plan, it seems like it's going to based on the job that the league has done and our training camp for next season starts back up in mid-November as planned, then we'll be able to bring most of those players back or we can decide to just leave them there for the full season, have them continue to develop. Those seasons should be wrapping up about halfway through our NHL season, and then (we can) bring them over." Dubas said in July. "We've tried to not be confined to one line of thinking on it, and stay very open to any ideas that come up and do what's best for each individual player and not just take a general cookie-cutter approach to it."
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