Earlier today, the Toronto Maple Leafs twitter account reported that the team had signed left-winger Ilya Mikheyev.
Bob McKenzie of TSN reported (tweet below) that Mikheyev signed a one-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
As expected, Russian UFA winger Ilya Mikheyev signing with TOR. One year entry level contract.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) May 6, 2019
The twenty-four year old Omsk, Russia native played for Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental Hockey League this season. In 62 games played, Mikheyev tallied 23 goals and 22 assists. Mikheyev’s performance in the regular season and in the playoffs helped lead Avangard all the way to the Gagarin Finals. Unfortunately, Avangard failed to get past CSKA Moscow in the Gagarin Finals. They were no match to CSKA Moscow outstanding offense (Note: There are a few former NHLers on CSKA including Mikhail Grigorenko). Plus, CSKA’s goaltending was outstanding. Ilya Sorokin, New York Islanders prospect, shut down Mikheyev and Avangard. He had recorded two shut-outs during the Gagarin Finals.
Surrounded By Former NHLers In Omsk
During his time with Avangard Omsk, he was coached by Bob Hartley, who previously coached the Colorado Avalanche, the Atlanta Thrashers and the Calgary Flames. Hartley’s wisdom and time spent coaching NHLers was only a benefit for the 24-year-old.
In addition, Mikheyev played alongside Cody Franson, Alexei Emelin, Evgeny Medvedev, David Desharnais and Viktor Stalberg. So, he was surrounded by former NHLers. While we can’t confirm if they truly mentored Mikheyev, it was probably good exposure for the left-winger who hasn’t played outside of Russia to be around former NHLers.
Mikheyev’s Style Of Play
In February during a Russian-Finnish Euro Hockey Tour game, Mikheyev registered a beautiful goal against Finland. He was able to muster up a breakup in the neutral zone. Mikheyev then used his speed to glide up to the Finnish net-minder. He then found a hole and recorded a goal for Russia.
Jokke Nevalainen of Dobber Prospects recorded Mikheyev’s goal and you can watch it below.
In addition, I found another video of Mikheyev on YouTube. The KHL posted his first KHL goal and it was a beautiful one. He took the puck from zone to zone. Mikheyev showed off his speed and puck handling. He fooled his opposition. Parked himself in front of the net and waiting for the puck to come his way.
As you can see from his highlight reel goals, he’s a good skater and he’s got speed. He’s capable of putting the puck in the back of the net. He reminds me a lot of what the Toronto Maple Leafs look for in their wingers. The Leafs love speedy wingers that can puck handle and finish. Based on what I’ve seen, he could become another stud left-winger in Toronto. Plus, if the Leafs can’t keep Andreas Johnsson, Mikheyev might be able to fill the void.
stats from the KHL
special thanks to DobberProspects
featured image photo credit – Josh Tessler